The healing power of music in hospital

St John of God Mt Lawley Hospital’s innovative music therapy program, My Music Anytime, is supporting patients’ recovery.

21 Nov 2023

A caregiver smiles at the camera as a patient looks at the view listening to music with a pair of headphones.

The program, which launched in August, has been designed to help patients experiencing anxiety, confusion, cognitive impairment and/or loneliness and aims to bring a sense of calm and connection through music.

St John of God Mt Lawley Hospital CEO, Vanessa Unwin explained the important role that music therapy can play in healing.

“I imagine we’ve all personally experienced the power of music. Listening to songs you love can change your mood, transport you to another place or revive fond memories,” she said. 

“A hospital stay can be overwhelming and some of our rehabilitation patients can be in hospital for many weeks. Patient experience is our top priority, and the My Music Anytime Program is a beautiful example of the holistic, person-centred care that our patients receive at Mt Lawley.”

Patients can self-refer to the program or are referred by their care team. Once referred, Therapeutic Arts Project Officer Rhiannon King or Music Therapist Giuseppe Reina meet with the patient to understand their music preferences.

Using this information, the My Music Anytime team create an individual playlist based on the patient’s preferences. This playlist is uploaded to an MP3 player, which is provided to the patient, along with their preferred headset, for the entirety of their hospital stay.

Therapeutic Arts Project Officer Rhiannon explains, “We check in with the patient weekly to tweak their playlist if they’re ready for new or different music.” 

“It’s very rewarding to see how music elevates a patient’s mood. As an example, we recently supported a patient who was referred to us as she was experiencing anxiety.”

“Through our discussion, I learned that she was particularly fond of The Seekers, as well as Louis Armstrong and Beethoven. In the end, I was able to create a playlist that included up-beat, heartwarming songs to lift her spirits and connect her with her favourite memories, as well as some classical tunes to calm her mind in the evenings.”

“She felt honoured to have her very own device and playlist to listen to and reported that the music helped her to sleep and calmed her mind and soul. Through the power of music, we were able to improve her quality of life while in hospital.”