Thanks to the fundraising endeavours from the Australian Stockbrokers Foundation (ASF), we have been running a music therapy program for the last 5 years in Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick.
Music therapy has many benefits:
- Assists with pain relief
- Alleviates boredom
- Gives hope and solace at a time when there is very little
- Develops motor skills
- Assists with rehabilitation
- Develops creativity
- Allows children and their families an opportunity to laugh and experience the magic of music at a very difficult time in their lives.
This program brings joy, comfort and happiness to children and their families at a time when young people may be facing long rehabilitation programs or life threatening illnesses.
This program reinforces the healing powers of music, to brighten the lives of children and youth who are battling serious and often life threatening illnesses. Cut off from the ability to conduct life as normal, these children and youth are able to participate in music programs, which offer them an escape and the ability to engage in creative and empowering exercises, they may not have had the opportunity to otherwise.
The Ukulele Project
The ACMF's Music Therapy Program Randwick Children's Hospital
Throughout hospitalisation, children are given activities involving music as therapy as a way to distract and to lighten & brighten their stay. One of the activities the ACMF have come up with is the ‘Ukulele Project.’
At this difficult and busy time, the Music Therapy team at Sydney Children’s Hospital have implemented the ‘Build it yourself’ Ukulele Project to keep patients busy whilst there is limited visitors allowed and no group sessions.
Jordyn (pictured below), not only built and decorated her Ukulele, but decorated and illustrated a beautiful song book too. The following quote outlines how wonderful Music Therapist – Monica’s support and the ‘Ukulele Project’ has been as part of Jordyn’s time in hospital.
Registered Nurse and Quality and Safety Project Officer within the CICIU, Katelyn Nougher, has witnessed behavioural and physiological regulation in patients, with clinical evidence strongly supporting the effects of these strategies in reducing post – ICU or later life behavioural and developmental adverse outcomes.
Witnessed daily, the effects of Music therapy, encouraging relaxation, emotional regulation and providing comfort to both patients and carers in CICU. Patients and families eagerly anticipate the arrival of ‘Music Monica, with her soothing tunes and calming voice, Monica’s presence helps to reset, re-centre and recalibrate.
“Without Music Therapy, Jordyn’s stay in hospital would have been impossible. It gave her something to look forward to, and a reason to get out of bed and helped her cope with everything she was / is going through. Thank you.”
Maddi (Jordyn’s Mum).
“In the Children’s Intensive Care Unit (CICU), which is often a highly stimulative and fast-paced environment, relaxation or distraction techniques can help alleviate pain, fear and anxiety… and very few interventions are as universally effective as music therapy.”
Randwick Children's Hospital
For Harvey’s mum, Diana, music is a part of everyday life. Her husband and two older children, Jazmyn and Marcus, play everything from the drums, to the guitar, keyboard to vocals and regularly hold family jam sessions at home with Harvey in the front row. Thanks to the support of ACMF Music Therapist, Monica Lee, the family’s love for music is echoed on the wards of Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick whenever Harvey visits for an appointment.
“Every day Harvey’s surrounded by music at home and to have that at the Hospital too is just amazing. Because he’s non-verbal, music gives him his own voice and a unique way to express himself. In a recent music session with Monica, she noticed he can pick up on the beats. Whether it’s strumming the guitar or playing the drums, he’s just mesmerized by rhythm and sound of the music. Just to see that smile and hear his cheer during those sessions brings me so much joy and happiness.”
Arthrogryposis is a rare complex disorder which occurs approximately 1 in 3,000 births. It causes limited movement in joints such as the hands, wrist, elbows, hips, knees and feet as well as muscle weakness and delayed development. Children born with arthrogryposis often need a lot of physiotherapy and in more severe cases like Harvey, multiple surgeries. For the first six months of his life, he was cared for by the intensive care unit team. After being on a ventilator for half a year, Harvey overcame all the odds and started to learn how to breathe on his own again. It would take many more months before he could breathe fully unsupported but in June 2017, two months later, he was finally allowed to go home with a BiPAP machine.
Due to Harvey’s complex condition, the family continues to have regular appointments at the Hospital to see the wide range of doctors involved in his care, from neurologists, to orthopaedics, to ophthalmologists, physiotherapists and the palliative care team. Now a little boy of three, Harvey has already undergone more than 10 surgeries; the first when he was three weeks old to fit a Rickman’s Reservoir – a device that can be implanted into the brain to help release the pressure of a bleed on the brain.
Throughout his Hospital journey, Monica has built up a very special relationship with Harvey, using the power of music to help distract and bring comfort during the most difficult times.
“Harvey loves spending time with Monica, especially when they sing songs with actions – one of his favourites at the moment is Baby Shark. “She’s amazing. No matter where we are, she’ll come and find us with her instruments, and you can see the excitement in Harvey’s face when he sees her and the Music Therapy team. “Whether it’s strumming the guitar, beating the drum or making music on the iPad, it’s such a great way for him to interact with other people and brings that sense of familiarity and comfort when we’re away from home.”
Thanks to the support of the ACMF and the team at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, Harvey’s love of music continues to grow each day and for mum Diana, music therapy is an opportunity for not only creative expression but family bonding. “I love to dance so I try and dance with him. I just hold him, and we dance and when the music’s playing, he tries to join in – to me that’s just beautiful.”