Sound and Sensory Explorers at RMCH
Starting in Jan 2014, Sound and Sensory Explorers provided the opportunity for a new monthly music session for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) at RMCH led by a multi disciplinary team of musicians and therapeutic play staff.
The project has been supported by the music charity Jessie’s Fund http://www.jessiesfund.org.uk who support music activities for children with SEND and life limiting medical conditions, whose access to creative and live music sessions can be compromised.
Play Specialists Pauline Shaw and Kathy Cotton from the Department of Therapeutic and Specialised Play worked alongside LIME Music for Health Specialists Ros Hawley and Mark Fisher to develop a regular music session supporting the creative learning, developmental and sensory needs of children with complex special needs who are hospitalised at RMCH.
Sound exploration, sensory play, children’s songs, musical composition and storytelling formed the basis of the session, and a special song, Sensory Explorers, was written by the musicians for the project. Sessions were initially designed to bring together children and families from different ward settings who shared similar needs whilst in hospital. The clinical environment can lack sensory stimulation for children with additional needs and the project aimed to address this by bringing together a range of specialist skills linked by a belief in the need for children to be able to creatively experience the world around them, even when it seems far away. Musician Ros Hawley describes the idea behind the collaboration:
“Specialists in Therapeutic Play have a clear knowledge and understanding of the sensory needs of such children when they come into hospital and through previous experience of working together, we could all see the potential for using our skills collaboratively for the children’s benefit. Music can play a great part in enabling the opportunity to develop confidence and spark interest in the process of learning-through-experiencing, and it was with this in mind that the idea for the project was born.”
Pauline and Kathy helped with gaining feedback from parents after the sessions. Here are a few quotes collected from our forms:
[My child] “learns songs and actions and it helps with his speech… also helps his recovery “
“My daughter has been in hospital for three and a half months now, she loves music, and the fact that you come in to play/entertain always makes her week.”
[My child] “loves music and instruments and singing, was good to join in, has been connected to machine for long time.”
“My son enjoyed the music very much, this is a great therapy for the kids.”
Whilst it quickly became apparent that families benefitted from being with other families as part of the session, the team also became aware that there were some children with additional needs who were not able to access a group session, due to issues such as infection control protocol and gaining support to access the session – some children’s families live a long way from the hospital and might not be available to accompany their child to the session, for example, or a child may be too poorly to move away from their bed for any length of time.
Towards the end of the project some of the remaining time was saved and used to visit individual children and families as recommended by staff. This enabled the musicians to be flexible in their approach and able to access families that may not have been able to be part of the group session.
Our funding is now finished and we would all like to thanks Jessie’s Fund for enabling us to have this focused time to think about the sensory needs of these children in hospital, which can sometimes get lost within the wider focus of healthcare. We are hoping to run sessions again at a later stage and continue to raise awareness of the needs of these children when they find themselves in hospital.