Child Life Therapy and Music Therapy: The power of play

02 May 2022

A creative approach to caring for kids in hospital

Play, music, education and self-expression activities are central to the Child Life and Music Therapy team’s work to minimise stress and to help children and young people cope with their illness and hospitalisation. SCHF and its supporters are proud to help fund thirteen Child Life Therapy and Music Therapy positions across The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, and Bear Cottage.

Child life and music therapists use evidence-based play and music interventions to create positive experiences, so children and young people in hospital feel confident, empowered, and supported to cope with their illness and hospitalisation. This approach was used to help four-year-old Laili during her stay in hospital.

Laili was diagnosed with a rare brain tumour known as Craniopharyngioma. This type of condition causes cysts, putting pressure on the brain. This affected Laili’s appetite, the sight in one eye, and her ability to walk. Laili’s mum, Nicole, remembered how a visit from a music therapist during Laili’s first stay in the ICU at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, significantly improved Laili’s quality of life.

“Her first music therapy session was so powerfully uplifting. It reminded me that my daughter is so truly special, inspirational, strong, and brave, and would fight the battle in front of her that lay ahead. She changed as a patient that day. She was far more content and definitely a little less fiercely opposed to the nursing staff doing their two-hourly observations,” said Nicole.

Laili has endured seven brain surgeries, multiple MRIs, and five weeks of radiotherapy treatment. She is recovering well and getting strong every day. Her family couldn’t be more thankful for the team.

“As a family, we love music and play it often when we cook, study, and play at home. Music therapy brought a piece of home to the hospital for Laili, which helps distract her but also energises her to keep fighting this battle. Having music therapists at the hospital has improved and truly changed our lives,” said Nicole.

Many supporters help SCHF fund these vital positions. It’s contributions from – one-off donations, gifts in Wills, and supporters such as the Australian Children’s Music Foundation, Camp Quality, Carnival Cruise Lines, Curing Homesickness with Coles, George and Janet Parker Memorial Trust, Hasbro, Hyundai Help for Kids, Ottomin Foundation, Sydney Airport, Tour de Cure and University of NSW’s ARC Phil team – that means all sick kids have access to the vital service they need and deserve.

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