Nathan Scolaro on meeting Cath
I’m sitting down to write this introduction with the most exquisite, captivating orchestral music filling my ears. I don’t know a lot of the technical nuances going on, but there’s lightness in what I hear, and an element of intensity building to something epic, something wonderful. There are strings and trumpets and flutes in spirited conversation and I feel uplifted, like I do while watching a golden moment in a Disney movie.
The album playing is Hush Volume 13, a collaboration between the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and Hush, a foundation which produces powerful, stress-relieving music for hospitals.
Hush is the brainchild of Dr Catherine Crock, a physician at The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne who for nearly 20 years has been paving the way for a paradigm shift in healthcare: one that puts kindness and empathy at the centre of the work, and seeks to minimise the anxiety felt by patients and their families.
In the mid-90s, Catherine notably introduced general anaesthesia to lumber puncture procedures for children with cancer, a need she saw as a young mum herself working with anxious patients—some of whom were just toddlers and babies. She found it increasingly difficult to cope, so she did something unheard of at the time: she brought parents together and asked them, “What’s it like for you? What do you and your children need to make this process easier?”
The ripple effects of Catherine listening to patients and families and then empowering others to help meet their needs have been deep and lasting. Not only has pain management in treatments improved, entire hospital environments have been transformed to make the experience of children’s surgery less stressful.
Hush sees some of the world’s most accomplished composers experience operating theatres and waiting rooms and then write beautiful, uplifting music to play in those spaces. The collection now encompasses 14 albums and is used across the world.
When we meet, Catherine has just returned from the UK where she watched the London Symphony Orchestra perform a piece written for Hush Volume 13. She is giddy with excitement, proud and jubilant for the composers and musicians, amazed at the reach of the humble idea.
She tells me about the plays she’s been working on: plays for hospital practitioners that explore some of the problems occurring in their environment—the idea being that they spark conversations afterwards about how everyone can work more effectively together.
Catherine sees enormous potential in the artistic world for changing behaviour. She also believes in the power of collaboration, and recently brought creatives, philosophers and heath practitioners together for the inaugural “Gathering of Kindness,” in which people re-imagined a more compassionate healthcare system.
Empowering others to shine is what Catherine loves most. She is a leader with heart and empathy, creating important systemic change by bringing others to the table and listening.