Wilshire Hospice News
One Voice Supportive Music Program
Where words fail, music speaks. ~Hans Christian Andersen
For many people, music is an integral and beloved part of life. From a soothing lullaby to a cheering sing-along, from a love song to a hymn of faith, music has the power to deepen a mood or to change it, to evoke memories and foster connection with family and friends. In formal studies as well as anecdotal personal experience, music has been proven to calm agitation, to improve the efficacy of medication, and to comfort and ease the mind and heart as well as the body. Music played with care and skill can be “medicine for the spirit” for both patients and caregivers. Wilshire Hospice offers in-home visits by full time staff musicians to any hospice patient or family who desires it. As part of the Spiritual Care Team, the Hospice Musicians are full members of the Interdisciplinary Team, working with each patient, caregiver, and fellow hospice team members to provide the most appropriate and beneficial music possible.
How Does Music Make an Impact on My Loved Ones Health?
Daily we witness music’s ability to soothe suffering that is unreachable by words or medication alone, easing fear, anxiety, anger and depression. Music fosters comfort and a profound sense of connection and camaraderie between patients and their families; eliciting stories and images of deep meaning and significance. We watch as “non-verbal” patients suffering from dementia smile and sing along to songs that hold special memories. In chaotic, clinical or sterile environments, we see music’s capacity to soften the atmosphere, inviting invisible but tangible qualities such as stillness, reverence, peace, a sense of safety, depth, and even joy to the bedside of the patient. In addition, we have repeatedly observed music’s capacity to ease physical symptoms: to quiet labored breathing, restlessness, or insomnia, to calm agitation and soothe even severe physical pain. For families of an actively dying patient, music can help nurture a last -- and lasting -- image of their loved one that includes, at its heart, beauty, a deep and abiding sense of intimacy, and an experience of sacred mystery.
What Kind of Music?
The kind of music provided depends entirely on the situation, circumstances and needs. Each patient and family is unique; there is no “one size (or song) fits all”. The music provided is for this patient and family at this time in these circumstances; furthermore the music provided is adjusted and modified during the course of each specific visit based on the changing moment-by-moment needs of those present. Like other members of the hospice Team, the Hospice Musician’s task is to meet each patient and family “where they are”, while being responsive, compassionate and attentive.
What is the History and Accredidation?
For 10 years, the Hospice Musicians of Wilshire’s supportive music program have provided a wide range of music for the emotional and spiritual support of our hospice patients and their families. Founded and overseen by a nationally certified therapeutic musician, Wilshire’s music program has received commendation from the Community Health Accreditation Program, and was awarded a $150,000 grant from the Hind Foundation as well as a substantial “Healing Arts” grant from the Central Coast Wine Classic Foundation. Our staff of full- and part-time musicians are integral members of the hospice team – part of the “heart” at the heart of hospice – and have been featured presenters at numerous national and state conferences for hospice and palliative care. Wilshire’s music program continues to provide information, inspiration and a model to other supportive music programs in the United States.
Wilshire Hospice Supportive Musician Overview
- Provides appropriate live music to address the changing needs of hospice patients and caregivers, offering emotional and spiritual support through music.
- Provides music wherever the patient is – private home, care facility, hospital, etc.
- Recognizes that the music provided is a service rather than a performance: The needs of the patient and family are the focus of the music visit.
- Is connected to and informed by a long tradition of music provided for emotional and spiritual comfort and support at the end of life.
- Is specifically trained to provide end-of-life music
- Works closely with other members of the interdisciplinary hospice team to coordinate and provide the best care possible.
- Is responsive to the changing needs of the patient and caregivers.
- Chooses music based on patient/caregiver desires, diagnosis, prognosis, psycho-social factors.