Music is powerful for healing the soul and no one knows that more than Tracie Wicks.
The music therapist at Dove Palliative Care Unit harnesses the power of music with songwriting, improvisation, guided imagery and music, lyric analysis, singing, instrument playing and music therapy relaxation techniques to help patients and their families.
Wishlist recently committed more than $50,000 to funding the music therapy program at Dove Cottage until 2021, increasing the hours from 10 to 15 hours per week.
Music therapists are university-trained practitioners who use music to actively support people to improve their health.
Mrs Wicks has a masters in music therapy and has been working as a therapist for eight years. She says when she first began working at Dove, she had just four hours a fortnight to connect with the patients.
“When they increased it to 10 hours a week, I instantly saw a huge change [in the patients] and now moving to 15 hours each week, we can do follow-up sessions and build on what we are doing,” she says. “I can give them more continuity and offer greater support such as assisting in making personalised music playlists for them to use between sessions. I am also able to see a greater number of patients.
“Professionally, I am also more integrated into the care team and can collaborate with other disciplines and be at those important meetings where they discuss the needs of patients and how we can best address them.”
Music therapy can help with pain management, reduce stress and anxiety, and allows patients to reconnect with their identity, creates positive memories and provides a way for them to express their emotions or their thoughts with more ease.
“Some people have been musicians all their lives and haven’t been able to engage with music due to their illness. Recently I was working with a 95-year-old who loved going to dances in her youth and she was able to reminisce through music.
“This also helped reduce feelings of anxiety and shortness of breath. Another patient was a dancer and she wanted dance music played in her last few days of her life because it was such a huge part of her identity,” Mrs Wicks says.
“I also do legacy work, including working with the patients to create a music-assisted life review, where you are looking at the music that has been meaningful in that patient’s life and compiling a list of this music for their families.
“I also do songwriting with patients and create a legacy for their families.
You can help give the gift of music to patients at Dove Palliative Care by helping Wishlist support this great cause. Go to wishlist.org.au and select ‘Music Therapy at Dove Palliative Care’.