At Paradigm Health, we are always thinking outside the box. Our staff is known for going above and beyond in caregiving and that includes bringing the joy of music to our patients no matter the distance. One of Paradigm Health’s four music therapists, Becky Sharaya shares how they are finding new ways to connect and enhance patient lives from afar to provide comfort and support during a pandemic.
“Recently, I have been fortunate to provide many virtual tele-music therapy visits to my patients, and it has been a joy to see the smiles on the faces of my patients as they sing along when I play their favorite songs on my guitar. I am so grateful for all of those who are helping to facilitate these sessions to improve quality of life for these patients. Many patients are feeling frustrated because they are unable to leave their rooms right now, but they do seem to enjoy talking to their Paradigm team members on the phone and listening to songs that build them up. For many of my sessions, I end with the song ‘Happy Trails,’ and it is a sentiment I wish for my patients now more than ever: Who cares about the clouds when we’re together, just sing a song and bring the sunny weather. Happy trails to you until we meet again.
One of my favorite things about working in hospice care is the chance to provide a supportive presence to our patients and families. When I tell people that I work in hospice, people often worry that my work might be depressing, and people often ask me how I do it. I am quick to tell people that yes, there are some emotionally difficult components of my job because I am coming face-to-face with grief and loss, but I also have the incredible opportunity to share music with my patients and this allows me to share in their lives in a beautiful and special way.
Music is a vehicle for connection, allowing individuals with dementia to sing along to their favorite songs from when they were much younger or encouraging people to share memories connected to significant times in their lives. I have laughed, cried, held hands and sang hymns as people have taken their last breaths. Music offers peace, comfort, and beauty in these significant times even from afar.
Our music therapy team has been collaborating with our nurses and the staff of facilities that house our patients to provide visits through FaceTime, Zoom, and other videoconferencing software. For some of our patients who may not have access to that technology, we are offering support over the phone to our patients and/or their loved ones.
We are also trying to support our team at Paradigm, as we are all missing the chance to be together. The music therapists have also been providing a musical moment of encouragement for staff each day. We also offer a music therapy support group via Zoom for our staff where we are able to share music interventions for relaxation and allowed team members to process how they are doing in a safe, supportive environment.”