‘Wriggles and rhymes’: Developing a parent and infant music therapy group at a hospice for children with life-limiting conditions and their carers — Helen Mottram & Maeve Rigney

Τεύχος 12 (2) 2020 – Article (published on 17 September 2019)

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Paediatric Palliative Care (PPC) is a relatively new and often misunderstood medical speciality. In contrast to adult palliative care, which has its foundations in oncology care, PPC focuses on enhancing quality of life for children and young people with life-limiting (LL) and life-threatening (LT) conditions. PPC embraces the whole family by offering care and support in the weeks, months or even years leading to a child’s death and beyond. PPC services are offered through various statutory services as well as voluntary organisations such as children’s hospices. In the UK, over 50 children’s hospices provide short breaks and respite care, including symptom management and therapeutic support, placing a strong focus on high-quality, family-centred care.

Music therapy has been a core family-centred holistic care service at Haven House Children’s Hospice since 2010. The service aims to address the unique and individual needs of the child as well as support the psychosocial and emotional needs of the family. This report highlights the development of the music therapy service within an expanding organisation over the past eight years and describes the introduction of a new parent-infant music therapy group, ‘Wriggles and Rhymes’. The rationale and perceived benefits of offering therapeutic group work in a children’s hospice are presented, with a focus on the ways in which the diverse needs of this clinical population were met within the sessions.


Paediatric Palliative Care (PCC), parent-infant music therapy, group work, children’s hospice, family-centred care


Helen Mottram has worked as a music therapist with children and families for ten years. She currently works in a children’s hospice with children with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions and within a neonatal unit with premature babies and their families, using music to support bonding and physiological changes within the babies. She also works in an NHS inpatient unit for women with postnatal depression who are hospitalised together with their babies, providing group, individual and family sessions to support relating and attachment and improve mental health. [helenmottrammusictherapy@outlook.com]

Maeve Rigney qualified as a music therapist in 2008 and has gained clinical experience with both adult and paediatric populations since then. As the lead music therapist at a children’s hospice until recently, Maeve has a particular clinical interest in the role music therapy can play in enhancing quality of life for children with life-limiting conditions and their families. Maeve is also a qualified neurologic music therapist and her current work focuses on neuro-disability and multidisciplinary work in a range of rehabilitation and community settings. [maeverigney@gmail.com]