In May 2019, Lexus Bristol (along with TGB) presented a generous grant of £1,550 to support The Grand Appeal’s music therapy project at Bristol Children’s Hospital and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. We are delighted to provide you with this update, which details the impact that the donation has had on the young patients who have benefitted from this vital project.
Bristol Children’s Hospital and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at St Michael’s Hospital provide lifesaving care for the sickest babies and children in the region - from Cornwall to Devon, South Wales to Wiltshire. Young patients include babies born as early as 23 weeks’ gestation, those suffering from neurological problems as a result of a head injury, and children with cancers or blood disorders.
Despite the best efforts of staff, hospitals can be scary places for young children. They are away from family and friends and often undergoing difficult treatment. Many face stays of weeks – or even months – on the ward and they can experience a lot of difficult emotions, which they struggle to communicate and understand. For patients with disabilities the environment can be even more challenging and encouraging their co-operation with treatment is essential to improving their outcomes. Music therapy is crucial in allowing children the opportunity to talk about how they are feeling and to express themselves in a creative way.
Over the last twelve months 433 young patients have participated in music therapy and our therapists delivered 739 music therapy sessions. For these children, music therapy provided moments of joy and normality at an otherwise very difficult time and the young patients weren’t the only ones to benefit – the whole family felt the positive impact of seeing their children happy, engaged, and getting the opportunity to just be children. Many families were also able to take a welcome break from the intensity of the hospital ward during music therapy sessions, knowing that their children were being entertained.
Sadly, heightened infection control measures due to Covid-19 forced us to temporarily suspend the service on the 24th March. This was a very difficult decision as we know how important music therapy is to the young patients in the hospital - particularly as they now have less visitors due to the restrictions in place. Many hospital departments have told us how much young patients are missing their sessions and we are keen to reinstate the provision as soon as it is safe for us to do.
When Nathan and Aimee were told that Phoebe their bubbly five-year-old, had Leukaemia for a second time their hopes of enjoying normal life were shattered again.
“Phoebe had been in remission for nearly two years and we were happily getting on with life. But in September 2019 the cancer came back, and we found ourselves at Bristol Children’s Hospital getting ready for round two of chemotherapy.
“When you’re feeling low it’s things like music therapy that make you smile. Whenever Claire, The Grand Appeal Music Therapist turns up Phoebe’s face beams. She literally loves it. Even when she was first in hospital at 14-months-old, she’d be playing along on the drums. Seeing Claire feels like seeing an old friend. It is so important for Phoebe to have some fun whilst she is in hospital. Music therapy brightens up her day. The sessions help me and Aimee out too - it gives us a welcome break. I can’t wait to see Phone home where she belongs, having a laugh with her brothers and strumming her guitar.”