Music Therapy Programming

Did you Know?
Hospice Huntsville has Music Therapy Programming

Music therapy at Hospice Huntsville contributes to the organization’s mission of providing residents with accessible end of life high quality care. Conducted weekly by Andrea Cooper, MTA, the program employs an interactive client and family centred approach. MTA stands for Music Therapist Accredited, a designation granted by The Canadian Association for Music Therapy which sets strict guidelines and standards for professional competence. Andrea successfully completed the accreditation process by earning an Honours Bachelor of Music degree, subsequently undertaking a 1000-hour clinical internship under the supervision of an accredited Music Therapist, and finally successfully completing a comprehensive accreditation examination.

Music therapy is different than music performance. As part of the Hospice Huntsville multidisciplinary team Andrea meets weekly with other Hospice staff to track recent experiences of each resident so she is able to tailor her therapy sessions using selections of the resident’s or family’s choice. After each session, as part of her professional ethics, she submits notes to the Hospice team on behaviours observed during the therapy experience. This collaborative, goal oriented approach allows team members to work collaboratively to offer ongoing consistent, comprehensive and compassionate support for each resident. Andrea’s primary goal is to meet residents at whatever stage they are in their life journey. Goals vary from resident to resident and with the same resident over time. The service is available at all stages of palliative care. The resident is not expected to do anything. Through her training as an acute observer of behaviour Andrea is able to detect a resident’s degree of pain, physical discomfort, energy level, and nuanced emotional expression. Even when residents seem non responsive she knows that hearing is the last sense to become impaired so the chosen music continues to have a positive influence. She observes the resident’s breathing pattern and synchronizes the tempo of her gentle guitar playing and singing to that breathing, gradually reducing the tempo since theory shows that residents reduce their breathing and heart rate in step with the music. The resident becomes settled and more relaxed. When family members are present, they participate in the music as well and become part of a shared experience which often is viewed later as a positive memory. In this way Andrea informally helps family members and other caregivers.

At Hospice Huntsville specialized programming such as music therapy is only possible through the generous and repeated donations of people in a caring community. Hospice Huntsville enhances the overall community health of our local region through guarantee of appropriate programming for those requiring end of life care. Please give regularly to this worthy cause.

Bill Allen