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Music for the soul

Last Modified: March 19, 2023

Family Medicine

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The overarching goal of hospice care is to decrease pain while improving comfort and quality of life. Music therapy is one tool that can help by offering a natural way to meet a hospice patient’s emotional, social, cognitive, spiritual and physical needs. Jessica Glad, volunteer coordinator, Parkview Home Health & Hospice, and Tim O’Sullivan, MA, chaplain, Parkview Health, share some of the high notes pertaining to the Parkview Hospice Music Therapy Program, and a patient’s wife offers a personal account of how the unique offering impacted the couple during a difficult time.

Parkview’s Music Therapy Program

The Parkview Hospice Music Therapy Program is a clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to engage with patients where they are in their hospice journey while providing additional services to those who could benefit from targeted music therapy goals. To do so, Parkview Hospice has contracted with an outside agency to provide music therapy to patients in all of our service areas.

Any hospice patient is eligible to receive these music therapy services. A member of the patient’s care team can assist with the process and walk through the different options and considerations before placing the referral.

It’s also important to recognize that music therapy is a specialty service provided by Parkview Hospice. It isn’t always available at every hospice organization, but we proudly offer it here, thanks in large part to the Parkview Foundations. This program is just one part of the unique services we make accessible to our hospice patients and their loved ones.

What patients can expect

Patients and their families can expect, on average, two visits per month, and, in most cases, the same therapist assigned during the referral will perform at each visit. Upon arrival, the therapist will work with the patient and their loved ones to determine the type of music and interaction that would be best for them, allowing them to participate as much or as little as they choose.

“We didn’t really know what to expect at our first visit, but we were pleasantly surprised,” Ruth Ann explained. “During our first visit, our music therapist was so sweet. She introduced herself and asked us about the kinds of music we enjoyed. Then, she got right down to it. Now, at every visit, she plays the guitar and sings, and sometimes Ralph will sing along with her. I love seeing him light up when she plays.”

The benefits of music therapy for patients and loved ones

Music therapy offers a host of benefits to the patient as well as their loved ones. For many, it provides a wealth of comfort by facilitating family connection, providing additional support and companionship, reducing pain and anxiety, allowing for self-expression, promoting positive life review, nurturing spirituality, reducing isolation and normalizing grief.

It was impactful for Ruth Ann Christman, who is enjoying the music with her husband, Ralph, during his hospice care. “This program is such a blessing. It makes you feel so warm, loved and comforted,” she explained. “Whenever our music therapist comes to play for us, it transports us back in time to our favorite memories and helps take our minds off of what lays ahead.”

Additionally, as each music therapist gets to know patients and their families through recurring visits, they also have a unique opportunity to lend an additional listening ear and an extra communication channel to the Parkview Hospice care team.

How to utilize the music therapy program

Music therapy can be utilized anytime during a patient’s hospice journey and is often a great fit for patients experiencing and dealing with agitation, dyspnea (difficult or labored breathing), emotional distress, pain management, family support and more.

“This is such a wonderful service that Parkview offers, and I would recommend it to anyone,” Ruth Ann said. “I can’t thank everyone enough for bringing so much comfort, joy and support into our home.”

If someone is interested in the music therapy program, the patient, their family or loved one should communicate with their care team to determine if music therapy would be an appropriate addition to their care plan. From there, a patient’s care team can refer them based on their current needs.

For more information about Parkview Hospice, its programs, or how the dedicated staff can provide you or a loved one with compassionate care at the end of life, please call 260-373-9800 or 800-363-9977 Monday through Friday.

Generosity heals

The Parkview Hospice Music Therapy Program was made possible by the Parkview Foundations for Gifts of Comfort and Healing for Hospice. The Foundations ensure that all gifts are given to the correct areas of the health system and used with the intent of the donor in mind. Learn more about ways you can make a gift.

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