Friday, July 17, 2020

CentraCare’s Music Therapists are Faces of Caring for the Community

Even during a public health crisis, hospice and palliative care professionals rise to the challenge of providing compassionate, person-centered care in the community. Nola Varilek of CentraCare Hospice shares how their music therapists are going above and beyond and exemplify #hapcFacesofCaring. 

CentraCare Hospice has been finding new ways to support patients and health care workers that we collaborate with during the health care crisis.

Our board-certified music therapists have been supporting hospice patients with music therapy from the outside-in sessions when the weather is agreeable. And when the weather is inclement, they are using iPads to facilitate sessions. They have also led group sing-alongs for patients celebrating milestone events such as birthdays and anniversaries.

There is also a trickle-down effect when visiting patients in long-term care or assisted living facilities because of the great benefit for the co-residents, especially for those living next to our patients. It’s been fun to see their windows open when the music begins and join in on the experience. I was in attendance at one of these sing-alongs and a lady called me over to her window to tell me that she had been having an extremely tough day herself because she was so terribly lonely and couldn’t have her family and friends visiting, so she wanted me to know how our music therapist’s work brought so much joy to her. 

Recognizing the toll that COVID-19 has taken on long-term care staff, as well, our hospice chaplains and music therapists have teamed up to offer a blessing and a song of thanks and support for these essential workers. Most often we provide this event from the outside-in, but sometimes staff choose to socially distance with us outside their facility. Either way, it's an equally moving experience for everyone. We also provide the facilities with a framed copy of the blessing that can be displayed in a staff area for those who are unable to join us for the live event, and as a daily reminder that we are thinking of them.

Music therapy visits in the time of COVID can be very challenging due to masking requirements. Music sharing and patient connection can be most difficult especially with patients who have dementia or a mental illness, who look for and rely on facial cues for social interaction. Our music therapy team has worked extremely hard to provide the most meaningful experiences to everyone they see. CentraCare Hospice is deeply grateful to our team members who are so willing to attempt new ways of care and support for our patients and families.

If you would like to share the creative ways your hospice and palliative care team is caring for patients amid the COVID-19 crisis, please send us your photos and stories so you can be featured in the #hapcFacesOfCaring campaign. 

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