Rowcroft's Music Therapist with a patient in the Creative Therapies
Before starting my University work placement in Rowcroft's Communications department, I had only a brief idea of what services were offered.
This seems to be a common theme when I tell people I work at a hospice; they have misconceptions about what a hospice does and have no real knowledge of the true extent of the work carried out.
Yes, Rowcroft does provide care to people who suffer from life-limiting illnesses but this care is not just pain relief, it can be therapeutic care, through a number of services which the patient can choose from such as complementary and creative therapies.
Music therapy is a service available to patients and families and was a particular aspect of care which I never knew existed. I was lucky enough to experience music therapy when I sat in on Carroll's one hour session with Rowcroft's music therapist, David Holmes. Carroll was seventy-seven when I met her and had advanced Parkinson's disease. As a child she played violin but had no real connection with playing music since then.
I travelled with David to Carroll's house where we were greeted by members of her family, as well as friends and dogs! It was lovely to experience how welcoming this home was to David and I. Music therapy is offered both in a patient's home, on the inpatient unit and in the dedicated music therapy studio which provides a small and peaceful setting and a wide range of instruments for the patient to use.
The therapy provided a unique space for Carroll's family to spend time together, on this particular occasion Di, Mancia, Sue and Theresa all gathered with Carroll by the fire to play and listen to music. I had never seen a large majority of the instruments before, but after just ten seconds I could hear exactly why they were used in the therapy session. All the instruments complemented each other; the instruments produced a calming yet energetic rhythm which David harmonised to gently, this gave the composition an added depth and soothing element.
After the two hours, I felt soothed and relaxed; it was as if I was the beneficiary of the therapy, and not simply an onlooker. It was clear why the music therapy sessions had become such a highlight in the family's diary, as everyone gains from the experience. It gave them a chance to chat and laugh together, and to quite possibly forget about their worries if even for a short period of time.
It was clear David took interest in Carroll's likes and dislikes when he took requests and had learnt the guitar chords to her favourite hymn 'The Old Rugged Cross'. Carroll's family also requested David play Johnny Cash's 'Ring of Fire'; this was a particular highlight for me, as I saw their smiles and laughter when David stumbled over the lyrics. They all then proceeded to help out by singing along and I could see a peaceful happiness on Carroll's face.
I also learnt that the family benefits from a CD of calming instrumentals made by David; this is played regularly in-between Carroll's therapy sessions. All music therapy patients are given the opportunity to record their own CD of themselves playing music with David, to listen to at home and multiple copies can be made to be given to friends and family as a gift.
If, like me, you are surprised to read about this facet of Rowcroft's care, why not visit the hospice's website to learn more about the creative therapy services available to patients & families or read Rowcroft's leaflet on music therapy. We thank Carroll's family for allowing us to write about their music therapy session. Sadly Carroll passed away earlier this year but her family thought it was important to continue to spread the word about Rowcroft's services.
Marketing & Communications Intern