News & media

Meet Abbey: Redkite Music Therapist Supporting Oncology Families in Hospitals

To celebrate World Music Therapy Week 2023 we are shining a light on one of our wonderful Music Therapists, Abbey who shares her passion and expertise in bringing joy and comfort to oncology families through Redkite’s Music Therapy program.

As we celebrate Music Therapy Week, we would like to recognise the powerful work of all Music Therapists in hospitals across Australia.

We caught up with Abbey who works at John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle to gain insight into the valuable role Music Therapist play in providing critical support and care for oncology families.

I’ve always been a little musical muffin, singing and dancing to anything and everything before I could walk and talk.

I’ve always had a passion for people. Music therapy is the perfect combination of my passions in life, supporting and connecting with others using music, so it was a no brainer when it was suggested to me by a close family friend.

I feel like the profession was made for me, and I feel so honoured and privileged that I am able support so many children and families during their time at the hospital.

 

I have been a part of the Redkite team since April 2022. Redkite has given me the opportunity to support children with cancer and their families through a therapeutic relationship and music by using interventions such as group music making, song writing, guided music and imagery, preferred music listening and playing, memory making and many more.

 

Music Therapy is a whole brain activity; it can bring joy during times some really tough times, it can provide motivation when it’s most needed, and can facilitate moments of meaningful connection and interaction between families.

Music is the only sensory experience that can activate all areas of the brain simultaneously, offering a variety of positive benefits for the diagnosed child and their family by engaging in Music Therapy.

For example, when it comes to pain, music therapy can inhibit the perception of pain because it optimises neural pathways and stimulates the brainstem. By managing a child’s pain through a non-pharmacological intervention, such as music, a child’s capacity to sleep or engage with others or activities can improve.

Sessions with the child’s family and caregivers are just as important as providing sessions with the diagnosed child.

The family unit is an extremely important pillar and source of strength during a child’s cancer journey.

Involvement can be as little as sitting and listening to the music, or asking for a song suggestion, to getting them actively involved by playing an instrument, dancing or singing to collaborating on what they’d like/need from the sessions.

Having the opportunity to engage in an activity together promotes that familial bond, which is of the utmost importance to a child going through treatment.

Unfortunately, Music Therapy is not as easily accessible as we’d like it to be for these children and their families, due to funding constraints.

Redkite is a key funding provider for Music Therapy service at John Hunter Children’s Hospital, giving children with cancer and their families access to the fundamental support music therapy can provide.

Below are some quotes we regularly hear from families which I think really show the impact and need of this service.

  • ”Music Therapy was the only thing that kept us going”.
  • ”It has been a huge support to the whole family during the extremely difficult journey of childhood cancer”.
  • ”Music Therapy improved our mindset and brought some really fun times during our hospital admission”.

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