When you’re a music therapist, no two days are ever the same.
For Eleanor “Ellie” Fletcher, who spends one day a week working with the elderly in a care home and two with our Children’s Services team, to say her work is simply ‘varied’ would be an understatement.
In addition to our Northfleet-based inpatient and outpatient wards and comprehensive Hospice at Home team, ellenor also offers a range of wellbeing services. These are designed to fulfill the hospice's promise of a holistic approach – that is, caring for all aspects of a patient’s psychological, financial, social, and emotional health, as well as tending to their clinical needs.
To achieve this level of inclusive, highly personalised care, we work with an array of multi-disciplinary teams, including occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and counsellors. We are also continuing to harness emerging, innovative techniques and fields to help patients and families express themselves, come to terms with difficult feelings, and bond with each other via non-verbal mediums.
And here’s where music therapy comes in.
What is Music Therapy, exactly?
“At different times of our lives, we may face challenging circumstances, that mean we’re not able to access music as easily as somebody else is. A music therapist’s role is to facilitate people to access the benefits of music: whether that’s to express themselves, to be creative, to relax, to motivate, or to remember.”
Ellie is employed by one of ellenor's partner organisations, Nordoff Robbins, the largest music therapy charity in the UK and she is currently spending a couple of days a week working exclusively with our children.
“I think music therapy offers something really unique in ellenor’s Children’s Services Team. It offers something completely different, alongside vital medical interventions, respite care and play therapy.”
Ellie runs a drop-in session for those aged under two, as well as family and one-to-one meetings. Parents or carers are always included, and – particularly since the pandemic has made the switch to Zoom a necessity – now play an even more instrumental role in making the session a success.
“I think the use of Zoom has really involved parents and carers in a different way. If the session had been face-to-face, I’d be helping the child to access an instrument, such as holding out a guitar for them to strum, or handing them something to make music with. Whereas now, the parent or carer is picking up that role – and actually, it might be offering them a new way to play with their child. For some families, it’s also been a real blessing to be able to just click in from home, rather than needing to arrange transport.”
The children Ellie works with may be patients themselves, or the siblings or children of those under our care. The therapy itself supports a variety of aims and goals that differ depending on the individual.
Benefits of Music Therapy
“The benefits of music therapy can be understood alongside the benefits of music itself. It might enhance a person’s expression and creativity. It might help somebody to develop meaningful interaction, especially if they can no longer talk, or if they’ve never been able to use words.
“Music can offer a wonderful way to come together, to create a two-way communication with someone without words. It often provides an opportunity to socialise with others and build community. And the added motivation of wanting to join in and move with the music which the therapist is creating uniquely for them can also help a child with specific physical aims.”