Music Therapist Serenades Hospice Patients – From A Distance
Boca Raton resident Bridget Brennan, 36, is a music therapist for Trustbridge Hospice, Inc. She visits patients, plays her guitar and sings, resulting in patients singing or humming along, clapping their hands, tapping their feet and smiling happily.
During the time of COVID-19, she often performs for patients from behind a window in order to social distance.
“As a board-certified music therapist, I’m trained to help patients connect to loved ones and to their sense of self. Patient needs vary from fostering relationships, pain diversion, to choice of song or a mood they would like to feel at a crucial time. Relief of anxiety, depression, connection to faith and life review sparked by memories of their favorite songs are common goals of music therapy.”
“Trustbridge music therapists also do Heartbeat Legacy Projects. The therapist merges the patient’s heartbeat into a chosen song to reflect their journey and record. The keepsake recording is given to the patient’s family. We conduct virtual children’s Grief Camps twice a year — a safe space where grieving youngsters heal by processing their grief. I am excited about participating in the two camps we will conduct this fall.
“My youngest brother had a seizure as a baby and had to relearn everything,” Brennan said. “Helping him at that time when I was age 7, I found I had a knack for helping him express himself to our parents.”
Brennan earned a bachelor’s degree in music therapy at Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina in 2018 and has worked for Trustbridge since then. She considers herself a late bloomer.
“I hardly believed in myself or my potential until now. Music therapy deepens my purpose and satisfaction,” she said. “I’ve also played flute since I was old enough to hold the instrument. There is a flute orchestra here I’d like to join when the pandemic is over. I also draw, paint and do yoga as a means of expression and relaxation.”Evidence-based music therapy research shows using music from a person’s young adult years is the most effective way to elicit memories. Certain songs are tied to events and emotions from some of the best and memorable times of a patient’s life.
Because of COVID-19, music therapist Bridget Brennan must perform for patients from behind a window. (Bridget Brennan / Courtesy)
Brennan was asked if she feels like a pandemic hero.
“Heroes are created when organizations and individuals work together to meet the needs of patients under their care. Many visits now are virtual or take place through a window using a phone to foster the musical connection,” she said. “Working in hospice has taught me people have a lot to offer over the course of their unique journeys. It is my honor to walk beside each person and help them maintain a high quality of life while we are connected through music therapy.”
“During this COVID-19 time, the hospice music therapy by Bridget has benefited both my mother and me,” said Mary Boinis, of Boynton Beach. “The songs lift mom’s spirits and adds joy to her day. It’s a blessing for me to see mom light up and clap or sing to the beat of a familiar tune. Mom so enjoys Bridget’s music.”
Boca Raton resident Evelyn Landsberg said music therapy is something her loved one looks forward to all week.
“It makes my heart sing to see her smile the way she only does when her music therapist is there,” she said.
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