25 October 2018

Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service is this week celebrating 25 years of treating, soothing and delighting children and young people with the healing power of music.

Music therapy involves the use of age-appropriate musical activities to engage patients, aid their rehabilitation and recovery, and help them reach their full potential while in the hospital environment.

The professionally trained music therapists work throughout the hospital to calm distressed children, help them relax while undergoing a painful or uncomfortable procedure, or simply offer a distraction from hospital life.

Senior Music Therapist Maggie James said music therapy played a vital role in maximising health and wellbeing, and improving the quality of life for very sick or critically injured children.

“Children who have undergone major surgery can often feel traumatised after their surgery, and music therapy helps them in their physical rehabilitation, pain perception and psychosocial recovery,” Ms James said.  “Music allows them to experience something positive and normal.”

“In rehabilitation sessions, we use singing and vocalisation to help children develop their speech, language and communication ability.

“Children are musical beings, and music can build rapport quickly and develop confidence in the child and family with their medical treatment.”

Music therapy at the QCH is primarily funded by the Children’s Hospital Foundation (www.childrens.org.au).  Redkite (www.redkite.org.au) also funds a music therapist for oncology patients.

The first music therapy program established at the former Royal Children’s Hospital in 1993 consisted of four hours of therapy provided by students of The University of Queensland. CHQ’s music therapists deliver more than 200 hours of music therapy every week.

The six-strong team is currently the largest paediatric music therapy department in Australia and the first to establish music therapy services for patients who present in the Emergency department.

Last year, the team helped more than 3,500 patients across the hospital, including those in oncology, PICU, palliative care, burns, infants, rehabilitation and emergency.

Children’s Health Queensland Chief Executive, Fionnagh Dougan, said the music therapy service was an invaluable and very special part of the care provided in the Queensland Children’s Hospital.

“The amazing work of our music therapy team is often the highlight of a hospital stay for many patients and their families.

“Being in hospital can be an intimidating experience for anyone, but is especially so for children. However, we see in the hospital every day that music has the power to help children overcome their fears, distract them from their illness and injury for a while, and greatly enhance their sense of wellbeing.”

“This not only makes them feel better, but can also help them heal and get better faster.”