Martha is a gifted harpist and has been sharing her love of music with patients at The Salvation Army Toronto Grace Health Centre. From the very first contact with Martha, she demonstrated a strong interest in working with patients and gearing her visits to respond to the unique needs and interests of each patient in a sensitive and thoughtful way. Martha visits our Palliative, Complex Care and Rehabilitation patients both one to one and in small groups
Patients, family members and staff have all provided exceptional feedback from the very first week Martha began playing at the Grace. It is not uncommon for our patient care staff or a family member to approach Martha when she arrives on the unit to request a visit for a specific patient. The melodic quality of the music and sensitivity that Martha brings to her interactions with patients and the choice of music she selects have contributed to the success of this program. There is a wonderful calming atmosphere on the unit when Martha is playing her harp as the music resonates for both the individual she is with, and carries through the patient care unit. We are truly grateful for the special way in which Martha’s music and visits touch the lives of our patients, family and staff at Toronto Grace.
Michael Fliess, Director, Volunteer Services
Toronto Grace Health Centre
I had never seen the work of a harp therapist and the impact it can have on agitated clients. I witnessed, first hand, how she was able to effortlessly calm down and refocus my agitated client who suffered from Alzheimer's-just by playing her harp! I will never forget the change in my client's behaviour and her mood. I saw her smile and move her body as she listened to the music! It was beautiful! The melodic sounds from the Martha's harp literally transformed my client from severe emotional discomfort and distress to a state of relaxation and happiness. Martha's strong belief, commitment and expertise on the harp can help people improve their mood. My patient was totally engaged and either hummed or sang along, demonstrating the therapeutic effectiveness of the harp and the practitioner. Most importantly, I witnessed this positive outcome with my client. I have recommended Martha to other clients that suffer from mental health and cognitive problems!!
I have been in Martha’s presence when she has played her harp and I have seen and experienced the blessing that her music brings to our patients, families, and staff. There have been times that the Nurses have approached Martha and have asked if she could play her harp for a certain patient. A patient who is not feeling well or is dying, Martha with her gracious spirit plays for that patient and doesn’t worry about schedule.
At least twice since Martha started her ministry of harp at The Grace I have had the privilege of seeing the wonderful impact upon patients. There was a patient on my Unit who was dying. As I approached her room once again I could hear Martha playing the harp. As I stood by the patients bed side I could see the patient who was once anxious now calm and listening to the beautiful music being played for her. As I looked into her eyes I could see the calmness and the eyes motion as she was focused on the music she was hearing. At one point I sang along as with the harps music and Martha was very gracious about it. The harp music continued until the patient died. The patient left this world peacefully. It was amazing to watch how it all unfolded. I have said to many people ‘Martha played M. out of this world into the next’. Her last breath was taken as she listened to the beautiful harp music being played. The family was so grateful to Martha for staying and playing for their Mom. I discovered later that this lady loved harp music.
Then there was another occasion when I had the opportunity of listening as Martha played outside the room of a patient who lay dying. Even though Martha couldn’t go into the room because the patient was on precautions, it didn’t stop her from ministering to patient and her daughter. As I stood by the bedside of the patient I could see the difference it was making to the patient’s domineer. She was so at peace. Patient’s daughter was so pleased with the harp being played for her mother.
The therapeutic harp music is comforting to the dying but it is also comforting to our other patients. I have heard many patients and families say they love when Martha comes playing the harp. I have seen some patients and family stop by a room door as Martha plays and listens intently when suddenly a smile comes across their face. I have heard such words as ‘how beautiful, how calming, how tranquil, how amazing’ from patients, families, and staff. The variety of music she can play on the harp is amazing.
Martha shows a heart of caring and compassion to those she meets. She has become a valuable part of the Team. The ministry she does is so important and I pray it will continue far into the future.
Major Marie Hollet, Chaplin
The Salvation Army Toronto Grace Health Centre
Zoe Levitt, M.S.W., R.S.W.
Martha plays for our residents once a week and it’s a time that they all look forward to. Martha is clearly a talented harpist but she has many other strengths as well- she’s very friendly and engaging and she is great at getting the residents involved. Her creativity is shown in her well thought out programs; in one instance she can put residents at ease with her classical pieces and another instance she is getting them to move and shake to upbeat sing a longs songs. She is a joy and an asset to our facility.
Faith E. and Rachel S., Recreation assistants