Pandemic provides opportunity for new programs

By Shari Manley, Child Life Therapist

During times of isolation when we are physically distant from family and friends there is nothing more comforting than a smile and warm welcome from a familiar face. Pip and Shari know first-hand the positive impact of seeing a friend and have spent the past months in their own homes working together to create new and innovative programs to connect with VSK children and their families.  The first of these is The Zoom Room, a therapeutic space for fun and engagement that utilises the Zoom platform. Pip and Shari facilitate twice weekly story and music sessions, that are carefully planned with open ended and inclusive experiences for people of all ages. The flexible and interactive format has enabled the growth and development of the program over a short period of time to include family support practitioners, volunteers and hospice staff alongside VSK children and their families.

The second new method for service delivery has been inspired by work in the Aged Care sector where the physical barrier of windows has been utilised to unite rather than separate people. Pip and Shari were excited to discover new ways of delivering and jumped at the chance to try. The result has been the introduction of Window Therapy sessions, delivered onsite at the Malvern Hospice once a week. Working outside the Hospice and 1.5metres apart, Pip and Shari deliver story and music experiences. These sessions are also carefully planned with a fine balance of energetic engagement and relaxation, paying close attention to the interests and response of the child. The hospice staff are supported to work alongside the children and the result is a collaborative creation of musical and sensory delight. Pip and Shari even plan to make the most of early sunset and provide the children and staff with a twilight to night session using light and sound to create a magical and immersive experience.

Not to be defeated by the restrictions and impositions of COVID-19, Pip and Shari have embraced new ways of working; encouraged and sustained by the increased connection to community. If you would like to join the online Zoom Room sessions, they will be held Monday and Thursday throughout August at 11am, access the Zoom App with these meeting details – ID:945 13381 1444      Password:CLT123. Everyone is welcome and there are no prerequisites or criteria for joining. See you at the next session or contact Pip, Music Therapist ( and Shari, Child Life Therapist (  to find out more.