Music Therapy Changing Lives For Hospice Patients

October 23, 2017 by SSM Health Home Health and Hospice Foundation

The changes that come with end of life care can be incredibly difficult for patients and family members alike. But for some SSM Health hospice patients, music therapy is proving vital to health and happiness, and can provide family members with invaluable memories that help to carry them through their loved one's final days as well as the grief that follows after.

SSM Health at Home's music therapy program helps caregivers and family members connect with hospice patients in meaningful ways. Launched in 2014 by Kelli McKee, who moved on to begin the new music therapy program at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital earlier this year, the program is now in the capable hands of music therapist Brian Hilderbrand, who visits around 20 patients per week in addition to working with bereavement groups.

Music therapy helps reduce isolation and increase self-esteem among hospice patients and is sometimes able to reach even the most withdrawn patient when nothing else can.

"Some people don't like touch and don't want to share their lives. We were looking for some other service we could provide when we realized that music touches everyone," said Carol Leverett, regional director of SSM Health at Home - Hospice. "It's astonishing to see patients that are totally withdrawn, even in the fetal position, react to music by tapping their toes or clapping their hands."

Catholic Health World, published by the Catholic Health Association, recently featured SSM Health at Home's music therapy program and the impact is has on St. Louis-area hospice patients and their families. Read the full story here, and be sure to watch the touching video below of Hilderbrand singing "Amazing Grace" with Juanita Ward, a 93-year-old patient with congestive heart failure, whom Hilderbrand has helped cope with a recent loss of independence.

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