It's a light in the week
Singer and guitarist Charlie Gorman joined Music in Hospitals & Care in 2013 and has performed regularly at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital for the past eight years.
“The staff are brilliant in every ward that I’ve ever been involved with here,” says Charlie. “They’re so responsive to the impact of live music. Eden Ward is an all female older people’s mental health ward. It’s so lively in terms of interaction, singing along and requests. We get some great responses.”
“The main thing I have noticed is the level of enthusiasm the patients have for live music in comparison to listening to a CD,” says Samantha Philps, Activities Coordinator at Eden Ward. “It’s that little bit of excitement because it’s special. For a lot of patients it’s very emotive and even if it brings up sad feelings, that can be such a release. These are important emotions to feel, and to be able to do that in a safe environment is really important.”
Charlie: “I’ve known some of the people since I started working with Music in Hospitals & Care. People that have been in these wards for maybe eight, ten or twelve years. You get to know their musical preferences and their personalities.”
Samantha: “Regularity means relationships can develop between the musician and the patients. We do have some patients that are here longer term and it becomes part of their routine – a little light in the week that they can work towards. Charlie is great at interacting with the patients and they can participate in the group. Their voice gets heard and they can see that week to week. If he doesn’t know a song, he’ll go away and learn it for them.”
Charlie: “It’s really lovely to see people growing through those stages of being at quite a low point to being so involved and alive in the music.”
Samantha: “The most amazing reactions are when patients that you don’t get as much from start to open up and you begin to see a different side to them when the music’s playing. Even if that’s just a wee smile, tapping their foot or mouthing the words. It’s really special when you see that.”
Keshia looks after her four children, two of which have additional needs. She started coming to Lifted Carers Centre in Wythenshawe just a few weeks ago and has been back almost every day since. One of the first activities she took part in with the group was a Music in Hospitals & Care live music experience.
“I used to write songs when I was at school,” says Keshia, “but it’s something I’d forgotten about because when you’re a carer, the kids’ stuff just takes over everything. So it reminded me that I absolutely love music.”
“The mental health challenge for parent carers is reducing the isolation and giving them the opportunity to feel part of something,” says Emma Gerrard, Centre Manager at Lifted. “The live music allows them to revisit something that they wouldn’t have done for themselves. It encourages them to really let go and remember what a fun and relaxing experience it is.”
Keshia: “It takes you away from everyday life and brings you into a completely new world. I was a bit reluctant to join in at first, but by the end we were all singing and clapping away.”
Emma: “The musicians involve the carers in such a lovely way, it’s beautiful. We’re now based in The Dandelion Community Centre which is a church setting, and that makes it even more magical. To enjoy live music here is such a fantastic opportunity for the carers.”
Keshia: “It was really nice that the music was familiar songs I had heard before, but not necessarily genres I would have thought of listening to myself. It uplifted my emotions and put a smile on my face.”