“When words fail, music speaks”

Chroma supports children and adults with life-limiting or end of life conditions, such as dementia

The emotional, social and spiritual needs for both patients and carers may be addressed in a unique way by the arts therapies because they offer a range of alternative means of emotional expression and release for individuals meeting the psychological, social, physical and spiritual challenges associated with life limiting illnesses.

Our team works with people in hospice and nursing care homes, providing them and their families with ways to connect, and be together at the end of life, when words often fail. We have art, music, and drama therapist available for groups or individuals of adults with palliative care needs. Currently we also have drama therapists providing group memory and sensory sessions for adults with dementia and music therapists supporting families whose children are very poorly with life-limiting conditions.

Music Therapy in Palliative Care

Music therapist working in palliative care aim to improve a person’s quality of life by helping relieve symptoms, addressing psychological needs, offering support and comfort, facilitating communication, and meeting spiritual needs. In meeting these aims, music therapists work in providing the following musical experiences for patients:

  • listening to live, therapist-composed, improvised, or pre-recorded music;
  • performing music on an instrument;
  • improvising music spontaneously using voice or instruments, or both
  • composing music, and
  • music combined with other modalities (e.g., movement, imagery, art)

 Here is a summary of some research findings in this field:

  • Data from a survey study of 300 randomly selected hospices in the U.S. indicated that the most popular forms of complementary therapies were massage therapy and music therapy
  • Music therapists assist family and caregivers with coping, communication, and grief/bereavement
  • Music therapists play an important role in addressing the spiritual needs of patients as music and can offer the “creative, lyrical, and symbolic means to address existential and spiritual needs during the process of dying” (Magill 2002, p 996).
  • Positive effects of music on pain, nausea/vomiting, anxiety, depression, mood and sense of well-being were reported in a meta-analysis combining studies conducted with cancer, terminally ill and AIDS patients
  • music therapy can improve quality of life and reduce symptom burden in neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia, multiple sclerosis and huntington’s disease