A big part of the street party that is the Lights of Hope lighting ceremony has always been music, with several local choirs on hand each year to volunteer their time and talent. The choirs are always an event highlight.
This year saw the Yamaha Children Choir, the Vancouver Men’s Chorus, the Vancouver Bach Family of Choirs and St. Paul’s own Lights of Hope Chorus, which is a group made up of staff members at St. Paul’s Hospital and St. Paul’s Foundation.
Yet another link between Lights of Hope and music is the St. Paul’s music therapy program, which receives funding through Enhanced Patient Care, a grants program that is funded entirely by donations to Lights of Hope.
Thanks to donations, St. Paul’s Foundation is able to issue over 200 Enhanced Patient Care grants to all sites in the PHC network this year. Several of those grants provided funding for music therapy programs.
Music therapy has been shown to alleviate anxiety and stress, isolation and boredom. In the health care setting, patients and residents benefit from the healing power of music in significant ways.
Music therapy is a discipline that has evolved, too, with many universities now offering four-year degree programs. There is also an accredited governing body in place, the Canadian Association for Music Therapy.
“We approach a patient or resident and get to know who they are, where they are from and what genre of music they love,” explains music therapist Lucy Thomas. “And music therapy is effective across so many different areas. I spend time with palliative patients at St. Paul’s and the music therapy team also spends time at the PHC residential care homes and mental health units.”
In addition to being accomplished musicians, music therapists are also trained in how to read body language and emotions and to respond to those cues. It’s all about enhancing a patient’s quality of life, relieving anxiety, depression, frustration or fear.
“Many of my patients have told me how powerful it can be,” says Lucy.
To bring hope to patients at PHC hospitals and residences during our Lights of Hope Season, please give now. You will support innovative programs, like music therapy, that mean so much to so many patients, residents and families.