Where words fail – music speaks

25 January 2024 | Expected time to read: 2 minutes

A teddy bear and a blue and yellow kids truck toy on a bed

For the last twelve years the Ottomin Foundation has provided incredible and generous support of over $1million reaching the status of a ‘Champion’ supporter to Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation and the children we support, including the ChIPS (Chronic Illness Peer Support) Program.

The Ottomin Foundation have gone above and beyond in their generous support of Bear Cottage.  

Bear Cottage is the only children’s hospice in NSW, a very special place that is dedicated to caring for children with life-limiting conditions.

Bear Cottage provides support, respite, and end-of-life care to children with life-limiting conditions and their families, in a warm homelike environment. Families who care for a child with a life-limiting condition often do so around the clock for many years. Bear Cottage is envisioned to be as far away from the hospital environment as possible whilst still providing excellent paediatric palliative care 24 hours a day.

For over 10 years Ottomin Foundation has funded the Music Therapist at Bear Cottage.

The inspiring role of the Music Therapist at Bear Cottage has a wide range of benefits for both the children and the families staying there. This role is recognised as a valuable component in a paediatric palliative care setting due to its ability to support children and families through holistic musical interventions with a family-centred approach. Music Therapy helps address emotional and spiritual needs. The intimate musical experience can include song singing, receptive music listening, song writing, relaxation sounds, and music in the sensory room.

From supporting children and families daily with musical intervention during physiotherapy or play sessions to providing a soundscape for the annual remembering day, Music Therapy has become an integral part of the services provided at Bear Cottage.

A key aspect is song writing, which is a way for children and their families to reflect on their journey, crafting a lifelong memory into a song, made specifically for them. Song writing for a child in palliative care is a complex task. There is not only the skill required to set lyrics to music. There is also a great need for sensitivity and empathy as the creation of a song that captures their child, and their experience is an emotional experience for parents.  

Song writing has therapeutic power because it allows for free association of thoughts and feelings to develop lyrics. Music has a unique capacity to hold emotion so, when the song is complete, it allows for a very safe expression of grief. More importantly, writing a song is a process that connects us to others. In creating a song about a child, relationships are preserved, even after the child has passed.  

As an integral part of the Bear Cottage family over many years, Music Therapists have helped to support and console many families with sensitivity and compassion.  

The generosity of the Ottomin Foundation in making this possible cannot be overstated. Ottomin Foundation’s support for SCHF is now coming to an end, we would like to extend our immense gratitude on behalf of all the children their generosity has reached. 

Learn more about the wonderful Bear Cottage.

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