WORTHINGTON — A harp designed for therapy may help patients afflicted
with dementia, deafness or weakness communicate with the volunteer helpers
from Compassionate Care Hospice, thanks to a grant from the Worthington
Regional Health Care Foundation.
“This is just going to be awesome for the volunteers, because
they’re going to be able to communicate with their patients in
ways they couldn’t have dreamed before,” said Leann Enninga,
Compassionate Care’s volunteer coordinator.
The reverie harp, along with its case and tuner, cost $673, and already
hospice patients and the volunteers who work with them are in love with
The harp is a small, lightweight, oval-shaped wooden instrument with
no sharp edges, made to easily fit in a person’s lap. It can be
plucked or struck with one’s fingers or an eraser-topped pencil.
Because of its pentatonic tuning, it sounds good even when the person
playing it has never touched an instrument before.
“It’s for the patients themselves to play. They don’t
have to know anything about music,” Enninga said.
Volunteers can offer the harp to patients or even play it together with
them. And even hard-of-hearing patients can hold the instrument to their
head or chest to feel its vibrations.
Enninga brought the harp to one of her patients and asked if she’d
like to play it. At first she was reluctant, but then she enjoyed the
harp so much Enninga was reluctant to take it back.
“She was in a bit of a trance. She didn’t really have a
lot of musical background, but taught music in a one-room schoolhouse,” Enninga
said. “She had a very, very good time.”
In the two weeks since the harp arrived, other Compassionate Care patients
have enjoyed the harp just as much as the very first.
The idea for purchasing the harp came when Enninga’s daughter
sent her a newspaper article about another hospice program using the
harp, filled with positive testimonials about how people benefitted from
Enninga went online to find Musicmakers, the Stillwater company making
the instruments. During her research, she kept thinking about specific
patients who could benefit from the harp and saw dozens of positive testimonials
on the company’s Web site.
To make sure she was getting the whole story, however, Enninga called
another hospice that had purchased eight of the harps and asked if there
were any negative points about using the harps. After a thoughtful pause,
the other hospice worker told Enninga “No, not really. It’s
just been good.”
Enninga didn’t need more convincing. She contacted Bob Demuth
of the Worthington Regional Health Care Foundation in order to request
funds for the purchase of three harps.
“I said it sounds like a win-win situation for all of us. It’s
good for volunteers and patients whose ability to communicate is quite
limited,” Enninga recalled.
The foundation offered the funds for one harp, and Enninga sent for
it immediately. On the very first day she got it, she felt like she could
have written testimonials just like the ones she read online.
“I think it is going to be used a tremendously lot,” Enninga
said. “… I’m excited about the potential. My goal
is to be able to obtain some more … with anything new, it’s
going to take a little while.”
For more information about volunteer opportunities through Compassionate
Care Hospice, call Enninga at 372-7003.