At Carroll Hospice, therapeutic music empowers the human spirit—even in the most difficult of times. Lydia Bandy and Jo Morrison know firsthand the power of therapeutic music. Their harp performances at Dove House—Carroll Hospice’s inpatient facility—have literally awakened the soul.
“Just last week a family asked me to come to their loved one’s room to play while he was asleep,” Bandy, a professional musician and composer, tells us. “They wanted to talk to him and they thought that maybe if I played he would wake up. So I started to play…and his eyes opened! It was wonderful. Everyone started crying. We’ve had special moments like that many times.”
Since October, Bandy and Morrison have been playing bedside for patients and their loved ones twice a week courtesy of an anonymous philanthropist. The donor brought the idea to the Carroll Hospice team after personally experiencing therapeutic music’s ability to “relieve the tension” during a close friend’s last days. Carroll Hospice jumped at the opportunity.
“We’ve wanted something like this for a long time,” admits Regina Bodnar, executive director of Carroll Hospice. “Research shows that music is a very effective non-pharmalogical approach to helping patients feel comfortable. It regulates breathing. It reduces anxiety. And it has the same effect on the family members in the room.”
During their Dove House performances, Bandy and Morrison play arrhythmic ambient music—music with no steady melody or rhythm. The approach is very intentional.
“It’s similar to the music you hear at a spa,” explains Morrison, a certified therapeutic musician. “It’s designed to help people not get caught up in regularity, and it’s very meditative. You can watch people’s tension go out of their faces as they’re listening.”
“Right out of the gate, the compliments were overwhelming,” adds Bodnar. “This is an example of philanthropy at its best. We would not have been able to build this program on our own.”
For the generous anonymous benefactor, Carroll Hospice’s willingness to embrace therapeutic music is another example of how the organization thinks differently about end-of-life care: “If you look at Dove House, you’ll notice the rooms have balconies. Most hospice facilities only have windows. It’s those little touches—the extra room to breathe, the calming music—that show you how much thought Carroll Hospice puts into delivering patient-centered care.”
Harpist Lydia Bandy (above) and Jo Morrison (right) play for patients and families at Dove House.