Providence Healthcare Foundation
Providence Healthcare Foundation

Melissa, Resident Assistant for the Cardinal Ambrozic Houses of Providence

Healing music in the Houses of Providence

Aug 25, 2020

“Music heals,” says Melissa when asked why she sings in the Houses of Providence.

Melissa joined the Houses of Providence team during the COVID-19 outbreak. With residents being restricted to their rooms to keep them safe, the Houses team were faced with the challenge of keeping residents engaged, and providing meaningful programs, while adhering to health and safety protocols. Melissa came on and with her brought joyful song.

A mother, piano teacher, musical artist, and now Resident Assistant in the Houses, you can say Melissa does it all. Her passion for music and providing compassionate care are evident in her daily work with the residents. She feels blessed to have this opportunity to sing for them and incorporate music into her work.

On a typical day, Melissa provides structure with a morning routine and breakfast. Later in her day, she goes room-to-room, getting to know each resident individually, their interests and musical preferences. Melissa will then sing to each of them based on their preferred musical style. "One resident told me they loved country music, so I sang their favorite songs, like Elvis Presley, and they would sing along,” recounts Melissa.

Melissa sings to Providence residents

Melissa finds joy in the everyday power music. She wants to connect and engage with residents, and make a difference in her own way. "I feel the joy that music gives them. Singing makes them happy. It instantly changes how they are feeling, lifts their mood, and also brings our staff together. Beautiful music creates a positive, welcoming energy in the workplace,” she said.

As restrictions have eased, Melissa has also started to play the piano in the lounge with a small group of residents, with safe social distancing measures in place. She sings and plays the piano, with music mostly from the 50s, 60s and 70s that she hopes they would know and remember. "My residents say that singing reduces their loneliness and anxiety,” she said. “Music is a direct line to their emotions and it’s amazing how even some of my non-cognitive residents remember songs.”

As a loving mother of five children, it's especially important for Melissa to stay safe during COVID-19. She balances her role as a healthcare worker and parent by following guidelines such as social distancing, wearing a mask and washing hands frequently. The pandemic has brought her closer to her family. She's spending more time with them and values every moment.

Melissa (center), surrounded by her loving family

In her spare time, Melissa is a piano teacher, vocal coach and musical artist. She teaches piano and music to others in her community. Melissa has also been invited to perform with other artists during summer festivals and holiday concerts around the GTA. "Recently, I was honoured to be invited to perform O Canada virtually in Tagalog for the City of Markham to celebrate multiculturalism in this country."

What does strength mean to Melissa? "It's all about balancing my life as a mother and healthcare worker to show others passion, kindness and empathy.”

Melissa is just one of the nurturing staff members here at Providence providing care for our residents.

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