Thursday, May 17, 2007

Hospice-Palliative Care and Music Therapy (Audio)

Think of all the ways music positively impacts your life. Perhaps it spurs you on during an aerobics class, makes you smile when it whisks you to another world, heals your spirit after emotional or physical turmoil. Because music can have many favorable effects, I incorporate it during my hospice volunteering.

For those patients who can communicate their preferences, I provide music for them. Sometimes we listen to the radio and comment on the artists or the lyrics. Other times, we listen to CD’s. When patients are not able to communicate verbally with me, I refer to their information forms for clues as to what they might like. For example, I might play an old-time gospel song for a patient whose religion is listed as Baptist. Patients’ nonverbal responses often express their feelings.

On a more structured and prescriptive level, music thanatology is the movement providing consolation to patients in the final stages of dying. This form of music therapy has become a part of many hospice programs. The bedside services, which are performed by music-thanatologist practitioners, provide serenity and enjoyment for patients. Harp and voice music are often used. During these vigils, patients hear music tailored to their specific needs. You can read more about this form of therapy and listen to examples of harp music being used to provide interior and exterior comfort for terminally ill patients at the NPR news Web site.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
"Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes”
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

1 comment:

  1. broniak2@msu.eduSeptember 15, 2007

    I am so glad to read about Ms. Parker's incorporation of music in her work with the Hospice population. I too, have been exploring the profound ways music serves as a source of comfort and peace and a link between family members and patients at the end of life. I am currently a music therapy intern with a Hospice agency in NY, finishing my field requirements for a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Therapy from Michigan State University. While the music thanatology movement is discussed by Ms. Parker, I'd like to contribute more information about the field of Music Therapy. The following is an excerpt from the American Music Therapy Association's website. "Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program." More can be learned about the Music Therapist-Board Certified credential at and about the established health care profession of music therapy at I look forward to reading Ms. Parker's book, and returning to the Detroit area to work as a board certified music therapist when I complete my internship.
    Sincerely, Lisa Broniak