Music Therapy makes a big difference at City Hospice

Betty and Lynnsey, MA Music Therapy student, at City Hospice

For the past six months, City Hospice in Cardiff has hosted MA Music Therapy student Lynnsey Gwynedd on placement.

Lynnsey has been providing music therapy to a selection of patients with different life-limiting illnesses, including Dementia and Motor Neurone Disease.

Lynnsey said: "I started my career as Head of Music is a secondary school and when working with children with special educational needs I saw how music can affect and touch individuals.

"This experience resulted in me researching into the field of Music Therapy, which lit a fire under me and 20 years later I am now following my dream. While practising as a trainee music therapist, I have witnessed first-hand how beneficial it is when working with patients of all ages.

Music therapy in a clinical setting

Music Therapy is a recognised clinical intervention and a way for people who have been affected by injury or a life-limiting illness to communicate and express how they’re feeling using improvisation, listening and performance.

No musical experience is required when partaking in a music therapy session. The therapeutic relationship allows the patient to explore emotions through live musical interaction in a safe environment and the instruments are a tool to express a wide range of emotions.

Listening to live music, music that is played in the moment by the therapist and tailored to the clients’ needs can help patients who are in discomfort to relax, and others may wish to escape for an hour to the accompaniment of the harp.

People light up

"While at City Hospice, I have witnessed how familiar songs, tailored to the moment can elicit recollection of memories. It is a joy to see the patients interact with the music and when working with dementia patients, the individual will ‘light up’. Music therapy group sessions may start a long conversation proceeding a song performance, thus allowing for meaningful social interaction."

Music brings pleasure

One of the patients that Lynnsey has worked with is Betty. Betty is from Cardiff and has a diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease (MND). The condition is so advanced that Betty’s speech is affected, and she only has use of her left hand. But this hasn’t stopped her from enjoying and engaging with Lynnsey.

Music therapy is a different experience for every patient. Betty is an absolute inspiration. Her diagnosis does not stop her from exploring the instruments and being creative. She engages with the music throughout her sessions and has expressed, “how much fun it is.”

Music therapy has so much to offer

On speaking to Betty, you can see the light in her eyes and her personality shining through. She said she’d enjoyed doing her musical sessions with Lynnsey and said she had a lot of fun. 

For her part, Lynnsey feels inspired and is grateful for having the opportunity to work with Betty in a therapeutic environment.

City Hospice Volunteer Officer, Alex Fagan, said: "Lynnsey’s really opened up hearts and minds at City Hospice to the possibilities music therapy has to offer to patients at end of life."