Updated: Jun 23, 2020
The 5 C’s to COVID Care
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused chaos but also moments of triumph. Each day it seems we hear new, inspiring stories of individuals who have risen above our current difficulties. The pandemic provided a sudden shift in workflow for me; from regularly seeing patients at bedside to working remotely the majority of the time - with no time to prepare or understand. The weeks seem long and the world seems heavy. Navigating how to "the next right thing" as Anna says from Frozen 2, seems like a daunting task.
We are in this together, even when the world of social distancing doesn’t always make it feel that way.
Virtual platforms have played a role in both connecting us and offering a new way to provide healthcare. As a music therapist at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I quickly found myself turning to these virtual platforms to provide care.
I want to share my own experiences through the pandemic with you, in hopes that it will support your current work. The 5 C’s to COVID Care reflect my own personal journey with virtual care. I’ve included some helpful tips and considerations, case examples, and encouragement. Let’s go!
I will be referencing MottTube throughout this post. MottTube is a playlist that is linked to the Michigan Medicine YouTube channel. The mission of this playlist is to promote comfort, coping, and education, which is directly linked to the mission statement of my department. Content submissions are open to both approved community partners and healthcare staff.
Confidence & Creation
It was difficult to manage the quick transition to virtual services. I felt a pressure to be instantly comfortable facilitating services in this new way.
I definitely was NOT comfortable. This was totally outside of my comfort zone. However, I decided, I couldn’t let this screen hold me back from the important care I provide.
1. Stick To Your Roots: Through this time of uncertainty, I have leaned into the roots of my clinical training. When formulating my care plan, I consistently come back to assessment domains, treatment plans, and evaluations. My confidence level and creativity grew by keeping these in mind.
All of the content created for MottTube is founded on a therapeutic purpose. Keeping the goals and objectives at the forefront of my mind made this transition feel more natural. (At first, I tried to convince myself to act like a television host and I don’t recommend it!)
Although the content I’ve created is delivered in an untraditional format, it provides a sense of normalcy for patients and families. It also allows me a unique opportunity to advocate for the profession to hospital staff and administrators.
Example: I typically include an opportunity for a sing-a-long experience during groups geared towards younger patients. My goals include increased positive coping skills, sustaining attention and pre-academic skills. These goal areas are still being addressed virtually. Find an example here.
2. Teamwork: I have turned to my teammates for support. We were able to come together within respective disciplines, approaches, and clinical strengths to create a virtual experience that seemed normal even outside the pandemic.
Example: Feelings Focus is a series where we focus on the feeling of worry. Many of our patients have expressed this as a common feeling they are learning to consistently manage. The episode showcases each discipline . Check it out here.
The pandemic demanded us to redefine community. In-person groups, gatherings, and celebrations, are on hold, both in and out of the hospital. This sudden, scary shift demands we answer the question: How do we promote community and connection in a time when it is needed most?
We know that music has an ability to unite and connect people. I became a music therapist because I believe in the transformative impact of music on individuals and communities. I believe music therapists can use this to define community again.
MottTube has allowed us to:
Share Music: Many community members have shared their music, in hopes of supporting pediatric patients
. We have encouraged this collaboration to create a sense of connection and comfort through shared music. Our music volunteers have also contributed, which allows patients to see a familiar, comforting face.
· Create Community: In order to create a greater sense of community, we have edited together various musicians. This has demonstrated how we can come together, share music, and uplift others. To view, click here.
Connection and Care
COVID-19 has created chaos and uncertainty in just a short amount of time. It’s hard to navigate this “new normal” in unprecedented times.
It is okay if you are struggling.
Give yourself grace, patience, and flexibility to try new things, to make mistakes, and to grow. Take care of yourself and be mindful of how much you are giving of yourself, especially in this time of crisis.
I am an advocate for self-care, and we encourage these same practices for patients, families and staff through mindfulness videos. It has been a pleasant surprise to see how these have benefitted my own practice as well as those around me.
“The simplicity of the mindfulness video actually had me really consider mindfulness for myself. If I can remember to be mindful and model this for my patients, we all can be in this together.” ~CS Motts Staff Member
Confidence, Creation, Community, Connection and Care: The 5 C’s to COVID Care. The pandemic has not been easy on any of us, but I hope that these tips allow to you to gain confidence and reflect on the reason you became a board-certified music therapist. Continue to be creative in creating content. Our field is inherently creative and allows us to flourish in times of crisis. Remember to stay connected to your patients/families and yourself. Empathic care can still be distinguished and felt through virtual connection. Finally, lean into your community. Involve your community. Use music to unite, to support, to motivate, to comfort during this crazy time.
-Meredith Irvine, MHA, MT-BC