Striking the right note: Children at The Royal London benefit from music therapy

14 Nov 2017

Music is said to be a universal language which almost everyone responds to in some form.

That’s why Tara Shea, Play Team Clinical Lead at The Royal London hospital used an £8,000 grant to bring music therapy to children at the hospital who would benefit the most: “Through this grant we were able to reach patients through the means of music therapy that we otherwise would have not have been able to.”

Twice a month, two musicians visited the ward, playing a range of instruments from guitars to xylophones.

Taking place both at the bedside and in communal areas, the music therapy was aimed at children who would get the most out of it, including long-term patients under five and children with Retinoblastoma (a rare eye cancer) who often have loss of vision, and need to gain a positive sensory experience in a different way.

The project also targeted children and babies on the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), helping aid their development and incorporate movement. Tara said “The Paediatric Intensive Care Ward ended up being one of our patient groups that benefitted the most - the PICU is an eight bedded Children’s Critical Care Unit, for infants and children who are critically unwell.

Many of the patients have limited ability to move or play, due to illness, trauma or chronic conditions. The intensive care environment is noisy, frightening for children. Music therapy offers distraction and creates a calm environment for children and families.”

The music therapy helped patients and their families in a number of ways – physically, it reduced vital signs such as heart and respiratory rate and psychologically, the music was an outlet of self-expression and emotional release. Socially, the sessions encouraged patients to interact with eachother and allowed some parents and carers to get a glimpse of interaction that they rarely get to witness. Tara added: “patients and their families looked forward to every session.”

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