Hello again. The next episode of the Thoughts on Music Therapy podcast is up for you to hear. We interview a family member of a patient receiving music therapy in hospice care. Feel free to listen and leave your comments on the site itself, or send them in an e-mail to me, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you in advance!
I wonder if anyone out there who works in nursing homes has ever heard of, or uses, the IN2L system. Ours has had it for at least the year I’ve been working on their staff. The IN2L (stands for It’s Never 2/Too Late) is a computer system (pardon my lack of technological language) that provides a number of programs, if you will, that are supposed to be interactive and can be shared with groups or individuals. The touch screen allows for some easy use by a resident.
I don’t find the system particularly useful, and the times I’ve tried to work with it, it hasn’t exactly provided what it says it will, but that’s another story.
The reason I bring it up is because my fellow music therapist/palliative care unit coordinator brought it into our office and said that with the system’s last update, there was installed a “music therapy” program. Hm. She said that the program’s title was “Music Therapy,” and that, when opened, it provided a large number of song selections from different genres of music. This is very nice, and seems to be a step up from the music offerings the system had before, but, I question why they call it “Music Therapy.” A better title could be “Music As Therapy,” or simply, “Music,” but not “Music Therapy.” Unless, of course, a music therapist is using those programs with a resident, and having that supplement the therapeutic process.
(You Picked a Fine Time to Leave Me) Technology
I led a group at the care center yesterday that included two family members of one of the residents. The group was going really well, and the family members seemed so happy to be there. (They asked several questions about music therapy following the group session, and requested information from me regarding research. I was impressed by their interest in music therapy, and not simply music, if that makes any sense.) At one point in the session, one of the family members requested the song, “(You Picked a Fine Time to Leave Me) Lucille.” I don’t happen to know this song, for which I apologized, but I was able to access it because our department recently acquired tablets for each staff member.
I’ve used the tablet several times for different reasons, and I was able to pull up YouTube and search for the song. I found this:
However, the connection failed right away. I refreshed it, and then it failed again. Repeatedly.
You picked a fine time to leave me, Tablet…
The director of the therapeutic recreation department at the care center where I’m working has asked me for my “wish list” for the music therapy position. There is a limited number of musical instruments there to be used. I use some of my own equipment.
I submitted the beginning of my wish list, which includes a guitar and a djembe (like I said, a beginning). As I have never grown a “music toolbox” for a facility, I can’t be sure that I’m asking for the right things. The guitar is a given, yes, but I’m wondering if I’m overlooking staples. Granted, the facility does have some handheld percussion, but there are many needs.
I love my Rhythm Ring. I received it and some Boomwhackers I’d ordered to use primarily with my private clients, but I’ve been using the Rhythm Ring at the care center. Well, of course. There aren’t many reasons not to use it. I have found that it helps my guitar playing sound stronger, likely because I am more aware of my strumming.
I’ve been imagining all kinds of other instruments I can affix to my person while in session. I really could be “the one-man band” that many people refer to me as I pass by in the hall, with my cart filled with instruments and a guitar on my back.
Ah, success was had. Today was the first-ever “variety show” at the care center. An 18-person choir and a seven- or eight-person drama troupe performed in addition to the nine-person tone chimes ensemble. There were many people to organize and prepare, and I was so pleased that a lot of them had friends and family members attend the show. I believe there were more than 100 people in our audience.
One resident, who performed in all three ensembles, said he was feeling “lousy” when I collected him from his room before the show. He almost refused to go. After the show, though? “How are you feeling?” I asked him. He looked at me, smiled, and said, “Really good.”
Grasping the music
I worked at the care center tonight, and we had a 35-piece community band come perform their Christmas music. I know the memory care residents pretty well, and so I sat among those who attended the performance in order to be sure they were comfortable and wouldn’t feel a need to leave. In the middle of one of the songs, one of my residents reached over and grabbed my hand as she moved with the beat of the music. I was thrilled.
I am consumed by the care center’s upcoming holiday performance.
- sent invitations out to family members / friends of performing residents
- prepared binders of music for each choir member
- given written reminders to each performer
- printed and posted signs all over the facility
- reserved the space for adequate time to set up
- sent out e-mails to staff who will hopefully help the performers dress in a unified way
- had nightmares about being unprepared for the performance
A care center Christmas
I am not sure how the Christmas season has come already. I spent half of my afternoon decorating the care center for Christmas, and the other half preparing invitations to send out to family members of residents who will be performing in a variety ensemble concert in a week. This concert will be the first for our new resident choir and drama club, and only the second time I’ve directed — if you can call it that — the tone chimes ensemble. How I’d love for the Young @ Heart Chorus to be our model, but I’m positive I don’t have the time I’d need to help us come to that.
Sudden or expected
I know from my internship experience that with the holidays and the end of the year, many people in our care die. In my internship, I worked mostly with people in hospice care. Now, the majority of my work is in a care center where I have recently been astounded by the number of deaths that have occurred. Some have been expected, but one, which happened today, was not.
I have never been one to tout that I am remarkable at self-care. However, one of the goals I have had in the past year is to listen to my body. Tonight, when I returned home from a non-stop day at the care center and a five-year-old, rambunctious client at the studio, I was tired. And sad. Normally, I like to get anything work-related done soon after I get home, but I simply could not do that tonight. I read for a little while, but then suddenly started recounting to my fiancé the memories I have of the residents I’ve known who have died in the past few weeks and months.
I am still in the process of crafting a tangible way to memorialize some of those residents with whom I worked quite a lot. Currently, I’m listing their names and dates of death. I know I have written of this subject in a past post, though in contrast to that post, I think I will close out the calendar year in some fashion by doing something to actively remember these people. I don’t want to hold on to them too long, though.
Does anyone have a good method of remembrance?