Little Havens, which is based in Thundersley, cares for life-limited children and their families from all over Essex. It provides respite and end-of-life care for youngsters who are not expected to reach adulthood. It uses the Power of Music to help improve the children’s wellbeing.
Much of the Philosophy of Care at Little Havens is based around holistic care. A big part of this is music therapy. For children whose senses can be severely impaired, music becomes a form of non-verbal communication and a huge part of their life.
Jackie Lindeck is the qualified Music Therapist at Little Havens and has been working there for six years. She says, “Music therapy benefits children in many different ways depending on their condition. Each session is tailor-made for the child I am seeing. I might use familiar music, improvisation or composition techniques depending on the needs of the individual child. If the child has a hearing impairment I would use instruments that vibrate so they can feel the beats and rhythm through their body. Sometimes I also use music technology which can pick up the tiniest movement of the child and turn it into sound.”
Robert*, who is 12 years-old and uses Little Havens for respite care is just one of the youngsters who benefits from Jackie’s music therapy. A brain tumour at a young age has left him blind, epileptic and unable to walk or sit up. Jackie says, “We used to tell stories together using instruments and songs but in the last year Robert has lost his speech. Now I become the story teller and we add Robert’s favourite songs in between. But he still uses his voice and instruments such as drums keyboards and bells. This encourages him to use and strengthen the senses he does have.”
Jan Curtis has been a Care Team Member at Little Havens for two years. She organises ad-hoc music sessions with the children and their siblings and can often be spotted with her guitar! She says, “Music is a really important tool. Children, whether poorly or not can express themselves in ways they may not be able to do verbally. I haven’t yet met a child who hasn’t responded to music in some way.”
The reactions of children can vary and it is key to look out for these. Jan says, “If a child is laying down with restricted movement in their limbs I will put the Ocean Drum on their stomach which works with their breathing. As their belly goes up and down, the balls inside the drum move and make noise. I then look for reactions in their face or body – even blinking can indicate to me if they are enjoying it. Once they respond to a certain sound I work on that. The sessions are led by the child – not the other way round.”
To find out more about Little Havens Children’s Hospice or how you can help please call
01702 552200 or visit www.havenshospices.org.uk
(* Names have been changed)