Meet Lucas. He is one of a number of young patients and their families who are continuing to feel the benefits of music therapy at Ipswich Hospital, despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Two-year-old Lucas is frequently in and out of hospital. When he’s there, he is often bursting with energy, is physically very active but also over-tired. He finds it difficult to settle and relax which can be exhausting for him and his mum, Tanya. And at home, his bedtime routine can take hours and he is often awake at night.
Which is where music therapy has come into play. Lucas has had three music therapy sessions, including two online. In person music therapy may have come to an abrupt end last March, but colleagues worked hard to get it launched online as soon as possible and from September it has continued online.
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. And 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.
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.
Being able to offer music therapy online has provided normality for many of our patients and families
Siobhan CastleLead health play specialist at Ipswich Hospital
Siobhan Castle, lead health play specialist at Ipswich Hospital, says: ‘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.’
For Lucas in particular, music therapy engages and interests him, but it also has a very calming and soothing effect. 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 Tanya has described how he is ‘a different boy’ during his music therapy.
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
Tanya, says: ‘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.’