The Music Therapy program offered at Ronald McDonald House BC & Yukon (RMH BC), facilitied by Music Therapist, Erin Parr, is the most popular program amongst families. While most of the programs at the House closed in response to COVID-19, they were able to adapt and continue offering music therapy throughout 2020 and 2021.
Families or individuals could sign up for a 45 minute session with Erin to sing, dance, record a song, compose music on the bandwagon, learn an instrument and most importantly, have fun.
Since January participation has doubled and on average they have seen 12 participants per week or close to 50 participants per month. Due to the higher demand for music therapy, the facility sees a waitlist of at least 2 families per week. As they welcome back more families and occupancy at the House has risen from 50% to 75%, and sibling participation has increased significantly over the summer.
From Ronald McDonald House:
“When parents have a child who is battling a serious illness or injury and the specialized care is hours from home, the situation can feel overwhelming. For over 35 years it has been our mission to offer accommodation that keeps children and families close to that specialized care and an incredible community of support.
Our families come from over 200 communities across BC & the Yukon, and we have also seen international families or families from other provinces stay at the House. Our guests range from newborn babies to grandparents and every age in between. While it is not a requirement for families to disclose their background, we are an inclusive, diverse, and welcoming House and see families from all walks of life.”
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From Ronald McDonald House:
“Music Therapy remains available for families to access on a regular basis and provides them with a familiar space they can express themselves, connect and play. The program has always been popular at the House but has been especially valuable over the last two years. It has proven to be a unique source of comfort and strength for everyone. Parents have a chance to witness their kids have a positive, happy experience, while siblings and patients do something normal as they enjoy the benefits of music. Families staying at RMH BC have critically ill or injured children and the global pandemic increased their isolation, stress and anxiety. Music Therapy gives families a safe, creative outlet and many express their excitement to have a music session to look forward to each week. With the added challenges our families continue to experience through COVID-19, our Music Therapy program is a service the whole family loves that is important and beneficial to their mental health. The commitment and dedicated support from Music Heals has allowed RMH BC to give families a sense of stability through a disruptive and uncertain time. ”The idea of music as a healing influence which could affect health and behavior is as least as old as the writings of Aristotle and Plato” – American Music Therapy Association”
Navigating The Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic
The House has been operating at reduced capacity for the safety of their families, staff and volunteers. They currently accommodate up to 55 families per night (or 75% of their normal occupancy). Due to the decrease in families at the House, they made some minor adjustments to how Music Therapy is offered and transitioned from a “drop-in” program to a sign-up system where individuals or families can secure a private 45-minute time slot in advance. While they have temporarily suspended group sessions like the Ukulele Club, they have successfully hosted a number of outdoor gatherings for multiple families to participate in at the same time. Even with the decrease in families, the need and demand for the program has remained the same.
Your support would allow Ronald McDonald House to sustain their program offerings, and prepare them for an increase of families in the new year. They plan to have more one-on-one, hour-long sessions available and will resume group and drop-in sessions as soon as it’s safe to do so.
From the facility:
“Since 1983, it has been our mission to offer accommodation that keeps children and families close to specialized medical care and a community of support when it matters most. Steps from BC Children’s Hospital, the highest-level pediatric hospital in the province, our House is home to families who have no choice but to relocate to Vancouver because of a child’s critical illness or injury.
Together, with our donors and volunteers, we provide a caring and safe environment for up to 2,000 families a year. As an essential service that does not receive government funding for our day to day operations, we are reliant on the compassion and generosity of the community to continue serving families from across the province. For our families, Music Therapy is one of the best stress relieving programs offered at RMH BC, bringing out the inner child in the parents and effectively supporting children to express their emotions in a creative and fun way. Music has been proven to elevate people’s moods, and help them cope through traumatic experiences. Giving families the chance to experience music therapy helps families during their healing process which results in a more positive outcome.”
July 3rd will always be a day the Blakely’s remember.
It was the day they learned their 5-year-old son Andrewhad leukemia and they would be leaving their home, friends and community to stay at Ronald McDonald House.
Andrew and his sister Elizabeth have been attendingMusic Therapy since they arrived and have not missed a single session. Elizabeth takes piano lessons at home, soshe has loved being able to play and practice while she’s staying with her brother. When she’s not at the piano,she’s dancing up a storm or singing her heart out on the microphone. Their mom loves dancing with the kids, while dad, Brian, joins in on the drums. Brian really appreciates that it’s a welcome distraction for everyone that doesn’t involve staring at a screen.
The Blakely’s make sure to sign up at the start of each week to secure their spot with Erin andarrive right on time, so they don’t miss a minute. The only thing mom Natalya wishes she could change about the program is that “it would be offered everyday!
Erin [our music therapist] would be here 24/7!”