Background Families of young children with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions encounter many stark challenges, including limited or delayed communication resulting from the child’s medical condition which may affect bonding between parent and child, or lead to experiences of frustration or isolation. Families may withdraw socially, avoiding playgroups and other opportunities to build peer networks. The music therapist and physiotherapist at Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice sought to ameliorate some of these issues through a music and movement group.
Aim To provide children under five with tailored opportunities to develop movement and communication skills within the motivating context of music-making, to facilitate peer support between families, and to provide a welcoming introduction to the hospice.
Methods A pilot demonstrated the group was feasible. The group was run over six weeks, three times per year. Data was gathered over five years (2018 – 2023) including attendance records, clinical notes and evaluation forms completed by families. The efficacy of the group was evaluated using all different sources of data, identifying trends in attendance and popularity of the group, parents’ perceptions of the group, and any unanticipated findings.
Results The parents gave highest scores for all aspects of the group: activities, leaders, setting, pace. They expressed that they appreciated opportunities to spend time with other families, with whom they recognised shared experiences, and indicated that they would be more likely to use other services provided by the hospice following this first contact.
Conclusions The interdisciplinary model of music therapy and physiotherapy provided opportunities to simultaneously address several aspects of holistic care. The group enabled peer support and provided a gentle introduction to hospice services, enhancing the experiences of children and their families.
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