Making A Difference: Music therapy helps hospice patients

Posted at 12:04 PM, Jan 20, 2020

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — From Bluegrass to pop, music connects us. That's why Bluegrass Care Navigators recently started using music therapy to help its hospice patients.

"Normally, I like to start with the song, 'Hey Good Lookin'.' It's very well known here,” said Maggie Scheppman, who spent Monday morning visiting patients at Saint Joseph Hospital in Lexington.

When Scheppman visits patients, her guitar is right there with her. As a music therapist, she uses songs to help hospice patients, whether it's with anxiety, agitation, or even pain.

"Just from a pure distraction standpoint, that can be very helpful,” she said. “If I can get somebody to sing with me, so increasing that respiration and getting that oxygen through somebody's body to help with some of those perceptions of pain."

While Scheppman has a list of songs she likes to work with, she mostly decides what to play in the moment after talking with the patient and learning their needs. She’ll even try to learn a song if someone has a request.

"It's really in the hands of the patient and a collaboration with the patient about their care,” she said.

Scheppman only started seeing patients last October, but it's been long enough for her to start seeing the difference it makes.

"It’s been really exciting to see somebody go from very anxious and tense to relaxed and singing Whitney Houston with me. I absolutely see a benefit to patients,” she said.

She likes to end each visit with the same song; Happy Trails by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.

“It’s always a nice way,” said Scheppman.

Bluegrass Care Navigators is looking for volunteers to help with music therapy. If you're a musician and would like to work with the program, you can call 855-492-0812 to speak with Scheppman.