Generally speaking, the Music Therapy Program (MTP) provides services to Delta residents (living or working in Delta) as well as to the Irene Thomas Hospice patients and their families regardless of their residential or employment geographic location.
Music Therapy in the hospice setting includes the use of music for pain management, emotional processing, relaxation, life-review, and creative self-expression. The Music Therapist at DHS sees hospice patients one-on-one for bedside music therapy. These sessions may include music-based relaxation to help address pain, restlessness, and insomnia. Clients might engage in song-based reminiscence or the building of a musical life review where they select songs that represent meaningful moments from their lives. If they wish, clients may choose to compile these songs onto a CD as a legacy memento for their families to keep.
Depending upon the need and population, Delta Hospice offers group and individual support to hospice patients and community members (and their family members) who are bereaved or living with life-threatening illnesses. Services are provided to both adults and minors.
The music therapy program at DHS has been especially beneficial when working with bereaved children and youth. Most children and youth already have their own connection with music, meaning that when they come to the DHS for support, music, likely, is a familiar, non-threatening experience. It also has naturally engaging qualities, which motivate children and youth to participate. This may open doors that other therapies may not, as it often does not feel like work.
How does Music Therapy uniquely address the needs of clients at DHS?
The Delta Hospice Music Therapist conducts music therapy sessions that allow hospice patients to listen to, share, and create music that expresses themselves and who they are, as well as to process many of the emotions they may be experiencing as they near the end-of-life.
When supporting clients who are bereaved, music can be a beautiful tool for emotional expression. Grief is such a complex experience, and many people find it challenging to fully express the enormity of their emotions through words alone. Using music within a session can help clients feel safe in exploring those deep emotional and vulnerable places, because music puts a voice to things that may be difficult to express in other ways. In the process of making music, clients are given the opportunity to externalize these internal struggles.
Music also has a special place in palliative care, as it nurtures the whole person. In order to experience any quality of life, it is important that individuals maintain their unique identity and sense of self-worth. Often, end-of-life care is focused on symptom management, and it can be easy for individuals to feel as though their identities are reduced to their diagnoses. Music Therapy allows an individual to express the part of themselves that is still whole and healthy.”
How has COVID-19 impacted the program?
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all Music Therapy services at the Hospice and Centre for Supportive Care have been paused for the last six months. In February, we initiated preliminary contact with the Delta School Board to discuss anticipated offerings as minors was the identified population for the grant funds. The school system was equally affected by the pandemic and we were unable to continue our discussions with the school board. We hope to offer services in October.”
Music therapy provides the opportunity for meaningful interactions especially within a family and helps in the healing process for those grieving a loss. It is an integral part of the work of the Delta Hospice Society as they work with those who are at the end of life as well as those who are grieving and bereaved. Additional funding would not only help them sustain existing services, but it would also allow for the opportunity of increasing it to include children between the ages of 6 and 12 years old. Currently Delta Hospice does not have the resources to offer support to younger children and feel this would be a great opportunity to do so.
Your support would enable the Delta Hospice Society to increase the music therapist hours an additional day per week to work specifically with children aged 6 – 12 years. This would mean engaging with new clients for one-on-one sessions as well as groups as the program grows.
“Children are often referred to as the “forgotten mourners” and we believe it is important they be provided with the opportunity to express their emotions and feelings about the loss they are experiencing. Grieving children are an often under-served population in our society today. While we realize that they need attention to work through their grief process, little formalized counseling is available especially within our own community. Music therapists have unique opportunities to make a difference in facilitating the expression of the complex emotions associated with grief and we would appreciate greatly the opportunity of being able to extend our services to this age group.” – Debra W.