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Volunteer, Clare Steward plays the harp in clients’ homes, and at the hospital to bring calm and comfort to patients, and their families.

There’s more to palliative care than you think

25 May 2021


The Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District palliative care support team have welcomed two volunteers who play the Reverie Harp to help create an atmosphere of care and healing through music.

Volunteer Clare Steward says the harp helps clients relax and provides enjoyment.

“It can offer profound support when people are facing the toughest moments in their life. Saying their goodbyes or making their peace, the harp’s gentle melody helps ease their way,” says Clare.

Having only had minimal musical experience previously, Clare and fellow volunteer Kathy Ryan learned how to play the Reverie Harp using online tutorials with music therapist Lucy Morgan and harp maker Peter Roberts.

Clare and Kathy are playing the harp in clients’ homes, and at the hospital to bring calm and comfort to patients, and their families.

Music is very powerful, and is a universal language across all cultures and is beyond words.

“The deep trust placed in us when someone invites us in as they reach the very end of their life, when they say to us effectively come and walk with me this last way, is never lost on me. It is one of the most profound privileges and blessings in my life to do this work,” says Clare.

National Palliative Care Week (23 – 29 May) is a time to reflect on, raise awareness and celebrate the dedication of those working and volunteering in palliative care services across Australia.

Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District (NBMLHD) Head of Department, Supportive and Palliative Care, Dr Alan Oloffs, says palliative care workers and services have a deep understanding of the difficult situations people near the end of their life or with a life-limiting illness often face.

“We can be instrumental in balancing a variety of perspectives and incorporating the psychological, social, and spiritual concerns of patients, their families and the staff caring for them,” says Dr Oloffs.

“We’re here to help, and offer crucial support to help loved ones and families through their time of grief and bereavement.”

As we continue to face the challenges of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the palliative care team continues to innovate to safely deliver outstanding clinical care, support and compassion to clients and their loved ones.

Supportive and palliative care is available to those with a serious and life-limiting illness, and their families. Support is provided in managing their symptoms, improving their quality of life and helping them to live as well as possible, for as long as possible.

During National Palliative Care Week, NBMLHD is celebrating the tireless efforts of palliative care professionals, general practitioners, volunteers, allied health professionals, community workers and others who care for those at end-of-life.

Nepean Hospital (South Block foyer)

  • Meet the Supportive and Palliative Care team and learn more about our service 10am-2pm on Tuesday 25, Thursday 27 and Friday 28 May
  • Volunteer Clare will play the Reverie Harp on Thursday from 1pm and Friday from 10am

Blue Mountains Hospital (near Anzac memorial)

  • Photo display and information table Tuesday 25 May from 10am and Thursday 27 from 11am
  • Volunteer Kathy will be playing the Harp on Tuesday 25 May from 10am

Lithgow Hospital (near cafe)

  • Display and information table, Tuesday 25 May from 1:30pm
  • Volunteer Kathy will be playing the Harp on Tuesday 25 May from 10am