Home' Southern Health News : Southern Health News - December 2014 Contents The sounds resonate and soothe.
In between doctor’s rounds, nurse’s checks and the
bright lights of surgery, music winds its way through
the corridors of Flinders Medical Centre (FMC).
The 593-bed hospital is among a growing
number of healthcare institutions throughout the
world turning to music to help care for patients.
While music has been offered at FMC since
the establishment of a dedicated Arts in Health
program in 1996, the creation of a patient
referral system in 2013, as part of a steadily
growing program of arts activities and musical
offerings, has embedded the role of music in the
delivery of care.
During the past 12 months, staff have made more
than 200 requests for musicians to play to patients.
Singer/songwriter Heather Frahn runs the Sound
for Relaxation program, which sees her work with
patients and staff to create an environment that
promotes relaxation and reflection.
In the Neonatal Unit (NNU) and Intensive and
Critical Care Unit (ICCU) Heather weaves her way
through the wards playing the acoustic guitar and
singing gently. The response is overwhelmingly
calming and the instant reduction in stress levels
“There are a lot of benefits to relaxation including
the endocrine system working better, blood
Singer/songwriter Heather Frahn plays to
Mel Prior and her daughter Layla in the FMC
pressure normalising, muscles relaxing, pain
can lessen and sometimes go away all together,
emotions are soothed and a more positive
outlook can be achieved,” Heather said.
For NNU Clinical Service Consultant, Noeline
Hudson, the benefits of music are significant.
“Having music come into the Neonatal Unit has
been a huge benefit,” she said
“A lot of babies are in here due to their
respiratory system and their breathing. Babies
have a variable breathing pattern, so any
music that calms them will help balance out
In the nearby haematology and oncology ward,
harpist Lyn Evans can be found sitting at the
foot of a patient’s bed strumming soft music into
the hospital room.
It is in a patient’s final days, amid their battle with
cancer or as a precursor to critical surgery, that
Lynn offers a poignant moment for relaxation and
often emotional release.
Lyn practices therapeutic music – an emerging
area in which music, often harp or voice, is used to
serve the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of
the unwell, terminally ill and their loved ones.
At the wish of patients, families and carers,
Lyn performs as part of a patient’s emotional
wellbeing and palliative care program.
“The harp is very soothing and has a way of
unlocking people’s emotions,” Lyn said.
For FMC patient, Robin, having a harpist play at
his bedside in the hours after his liver transplant
created an “air of healing”.
“Because I was still going through some pain relief
and pain management, it just sent me off to sleep
and stopped me from thinking about things for a
moment, and made me feel really calm,” he said.
At the request of staff, Lyn also performs in the
Margaret Tobin Centre – a dedicated mental
health space, where the effect on patients is also
Arts in Health at FMC Program Assistant Isabelle
Ashford is responsible for bringing in diverse
music acts to perform in wards each Wednesday.
“There was a gentleman in ICCU who had
lost function of all of his limbs and I brought a
musician up there to play the Indian flute and this
amazing smile came across his face,” she said.
“He just had this beautiful peaceful look as he was
experiencing this music in this dire situation that he
was in. This will stay with me for many years.”
A growing body of research validates the
physiological and emotional benefits of music
among patients, including pain control, lowering
blood pressure, lowering stress, assisting caregivers
with bereavement and boosting the morale of
patients, their families and hospital staff.
The healing power of music
BY KYLA GOODFELLOW
Amid the murmurs of tiny babies, above the constant drone of heart monitors and
punctuating the hurried patter of feet against the linoleum floor are the gentle
melodies of a woman’s voice, the thrums of an acoustic guitar and the vibrations of
a great wooden harp.
16 / DECEMBER 2014 / SOUTHERN HEALTH NEWS
Links Archive October 2014 Southern Health News - February 2015 Navigation Previous Page