Hospice Music Therapy
Hospice music therapy is a type of psychosocial intervention that utilizes music to improve the quality of life for those facing terminal illness. As patients enter their final years, they may experience increased pain and physical discomfort, emotional distress and an inability to cope with their situation. A music therapist can help individuals process these and other feelings through music experiences like listening, discussing special lyrics, songwriting, improvisation and singing. They will also offer consultation and referral services to patients’ families, caregivers and others involved in end-of-life care within the community.
Hospices are intricate organizations, involving many professionals working together to support a patient’s journey through illness and death. Nurses play an essential role in direct care, and can collaborate effectively with music therapists during cotreatment for holistic outcomes.
This article reviews the current literature on music therapy in hospice and palliative care. We focus on empirical studies that show significant improvements in pain, physical comfort, fatigue and energy levels as well as anxiety, mood, spirituality and quality of life when using music therapy. These results indicate that music therapy has significant potential to reduce discomfort and distress while improving quality of life while relieving depression stress and anxiety symptoms.
Furthermore, music therapy can be seen as a core service within hospice that meets Medicare’s Conditions of Participation for providers. This positioning allows music therapists to dedicate their time towards developing innovative treatment models and expanding clinical programming – effectively contributing to the quality of end-of-life care in ways not possible with other team members. Ultimately, all stakeholders (music therapists, treatment team members, patients, hospice agencies) benefit from this approach.