02/02/2021 | Press releases

Virtual music therapy sessions continue to support families during Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Ipswich Hospital music therapy sessions go online.

Young patients and their families are continuing to feel the benefits of music therapy at Ipswich Hospital, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In person music therapy may have come to an abrupt end in March last year, but colleagues worked hard to get it launched online as soon as possible and from September it has continued online.

The Play Team on Bergholt Ward (the Children’s Ward) at Ipswich Hospital have been instrumental in allowing this work to continue.

The ward staff help the young patients on the ward, whilst the trained music therapist interacts with them over a screen from their base offsite.

Music therapy at Ipswich Hospital

Provided by Daisy Williamson, senior music therapist with Suffolk Music Therapy Services, the service has been made possible by local charity Jess Grant Celebration, which raises money for children and young people with life-threatening illnesses.

Siobhan Castle, lead health play specialist at Ipswich Hospital, said: “Being able to offer music therapy online has provided normality for many of our patients and families. We have held free sessions within the play room for children who are able to leave their beds, as well as individual music therapy for isolated patients. Daisy has been able to build relationships with some children who are admitted on a regular basis.

“We also hope to offer more sessions at home for some of our longer term patients.

“We look forward to the day when we can welcome Daisy back to the ward in person as her presence and therapeutic skills have such a calming effect on patients, families and staff.”

How the sessions work

Musical therapy sessions vary for each child. Familiar songs are often used, along with improvised music, sensory play, song-writing or music for listening and relaxation.

Music therapy invites the child to engage in something creative, where they can express themselves, process their emotions, and feel empowered.

Music is also used as a distraction for children who are distressed or anxious about the medical interventions taking place while they’re in hospital.

Music for relaxation has also worked well online and for some patients (and parents) who are incredibly tired, the music has helped sooth and relax the child, even helping them to finally drift off into much-needed sleep, giving the parent/s a moment of respite.

What parents say

“That’s the first time I’ve seen him smile all day”

“I’ve never seen her this relaxed”

“He reacts beautifully to your voice and music it just stops him in his tracks. It’s lovely to see him so focussed and relaxed”.

Case study: Lucas

Lucas, aged two, is frequently in and out of hospital. He has had three music therapy sessions, including two online. He is often bursting with energy when he’s in the hospital, physically very active but also over-tired. Lucas finds it difficult to settle and relax which can be exhausting for him and his mum. At home, his bedtime routine can take hours and he is often awake at night.

Music therapy at Ipswich Hospital

Music therapy engages and interests Lucas, but it also has a very calming and soothing effect on him. The sound of the therapist’s singing voice and the harp encourages him to settle and relax, sit on his mother’s lap, calm and relaxed. Other professionals on the ward have noticed the direct affect the music has on Lucas, and his mother has described how he is “a different boy” during his music therapy.

Lucas’s mum, Tanya, said: “Lucas has had many hospital admissions since birth and is certainly no stranger on the simply amazing Bergholt Ward at Ipswich Hospital.

“As he is getting older and gaining more strength hospital stays are somewhat challenging. Lucas has complex medical needs and is a very busy boy with it. It’s difficult to calm and settle him, but since having some music therapy sessions with Daisy both face to face and online we’ve noticed a real connection he makes with it and it has a wonderful effect on him. It’s incredibly calming for him, will stop him in his tracks and he tends to relax and listen which more often than not leads him to fall asleep.

“At home we continue to use the music therapy Daisy has kindly provided. Lucas now associates this music with time to relax and sleep, it works great! We are extremely grateful for the therapy that has been provided and I know other parents will find this very beneficial also.”

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