Derbyshire Children’s Hospital

Should I stay or should I go?

Through playing music in hospital wards we are constantly learning to read patients reactions and developing our sensitivity as to whether a patient is happy for us to be there, wants us to be there or would rather we left. Sometimes this is easy as the patient gives a clear response to our arrival and we can feel confident as to whether we should stay and play or leave.

On Friday 1st of June I was part of an interaction in a day surgery ward that went something like this… We entered the 8 bed ward and played for the children and their families there. We were met with a variety of reactions from the patients on the ward, from interest, through indifference to excitement. We felt confident to stay and play. We played for about ten minutes and had engaged a couple of children who had interacted with us to varying degrees, but all positively.

While this was going on a child (who we later found out was just one year old) was brought back onto the ward from surgery. He was coming round from anaesthetic and was in some discomfort and distress and there was very little that mum could do to comfort him. He would not stop crying. At the end of the piece we had been playing Sarah moved over and started playing for the boy. Nick was playing behind her and I was some feet away able to view the scene from a distance but still able to provide musical accompaniment. As I watched and played and the piece progressed I couldn’t see that what we were doing was having any discernible effect on the boy or even that he had registered our presence, even though Sarah was only a couple of feet away and crouching down playing at the boys eye level.

I was starting to feel uncomfortable and that perhaps we were distressing the boy more and my reaction was to move away but Sarah continued to play so I stayed and played. After a few more seconds (that to me felt like a long while) the boy all of a sudden stopped crying and became transfixed by Sarah. He stared straight at her and became completely absorbed in the music that she was playing on her fiddle. Nick and I stayed in a supporting role continuing to play but leaving Sarah free to steer the interaction. She carried the piece on for a couple of minutes during which time the boys gaze did not leave her once. The boy seemed calmed, still and relieved of physical discomfort.

Mum made the comment “I wish we had you at home!” and both adults continued to remark at how soothed he was by the music. After a couple of minutes more the boy seemed to become aware of his physical discomfort once more and started to cry again. As he did so we started to leave but continued playing as we left the ward.

For me it was a lesson in gentle persistence. I would have left the interaction before anything had had a chance to happen. Trying to judge a patients reaction to the music you are playing in hospital can be very difficult and requires a mixture of self confidence, humility and to keep the mantra of ‘expect nothing’ at the forefront of your mind. Just remember not to ‘expect nothing’ too soon!

Youth Music Grant supporting Music in Health Programme

OPUS is delighted to announce that it has been awarded a grant of £113,080 from Youth Music to support the development of its music in health programme. This grant ensures that OPUS will be able to continue its residency at Derbyshire Children’s Hospital for a further two years from May 2012, along with new 18 month residencies in children’s wards at Leicester Royal Infirmary, Queens Medical Centre Nottingham and Kings Mill Hospital in Sutton in Ashfield from September 2012. OPUS musicians will be visiting the hospitals on a weekly basis, making music with young patients, their visitors and hospital staff on wards, in waiting areas and at the bedside. Alongside this, OPUS will be delivering training for healthcare staff, enabling them to work alongside OPUS musicians, and to continue practice outside of OPUS’ visits. OPUS will also be delivering 5-day training courses for musicians wishing to work in healthcare settings. Courses will take place in October 2012, and again in April and October 2013. Finally, OPUS is already working hard through this grant funding to build a strong evidence base of the impacts upon health and wellbeing, sharing research and practice and working with numerous partners to explore the long-term sustainability of this practice. OPUS plans to launch a music and health website later in the year, and to host a national music and health seminar in 2013. Watch this space …………..! We are incredibly grateful to Youth Music, along with our partner hospitals and other funders and supporters for making this programme of work possible.

Derbyshire Children’s Hospital

Our residency at Derbyshire Children’s Hospital began again yesterday, and what a fantastic day of music-making with children, families and healthcare staff it was! It’s fabulous to be back at the hospital where we are made to feel so welcome and really supported in making a big difference to the lives of those we meet. It was a real priviledge to spend some time on the wonderful neonatal intensive care ward yesterday, playing music for and with babies and their families. Staff and families commented on the positive change of atmosphere within the ward, and the feeling of calm and relaxation which ensued. We saw some lovely reactions from the tiniest of babies and plan to make regular visits to neonatal as part of our weekly sessions.

We are extremely grateful to our funders, Youth Music and The Derby Hositals Charitable Trust for supporting this residency which will continue until at least March 2014, with 3 OPUS musicians visiting the hospital on a weekly basis.

What we did on our Friday….

Friday 11th May 2012
Sunflower Ward (an open waiting area upstairs with day surgery waiting and recovery areas on each side) – quite quiet today, but started in the day surgery area – one little girl rocking with her Mum in time with the music, did not need any more engagement than that – 2 little babies in and out with parents and a few attending physicians and nursing staff joining in with “Wind the Bobbin Up” and discussing the song with each other. Other ward quiet – played “for” mostly here – sleepy patients.

Lobsters (an area with 3 rooms each with about 4 beds in just next to Sunflower)– 2 teenaged boys with Mums – one eating and looking tired and not engaging much but listening – the other turned out to be a ballet and contemporary dancer – has played violin and guitar also – joined us in percussion – nice discussion about his dancing and musical life – Mum also played shaker with us and told us she is a flautist when she has time.

Foyer to the Hospital (a large waiting area downstairs – the main way into the Children’s Hospital) – discussed the uninspiring nature of this area to play in – performance of “Five O’Clock” before cup of tea break.

Pink Room (large waiting area downstairs) – not occupied by many

Green Room (same sized area further down the corridor) – nice improvisation for a toddler learning to walk and having fun following Dad backwards and forwards – Played “Match of the Day” for two people at the football table – the passing Physiotherapists were impressed with the tune and requested Ski Sunday theme tune and Cricket theme – also stated not too loud and no more noise near their working door.

ICU (upstairs in Children’s Hospital) – played for a 2 year old and a little baby for short time

Shrimps (baby ward on the upstairs Puffin Ward) – lovely interaction and eye contact from little baby and sister – transfixed on me and the viola for many times round the musical piece the Mazurka de St Pierre – latterly a lovely mesage from the family thanking the doctors, nurses and musicians.

NICU – worked through from littlest ones, to the eldest – Bb major improvisation pizzicato Viola, Guita and Bodhran and the machines – hypnotic and trance-like – the Doctor on duty took some film of our work near the incubators.

Sarah Matthews

The end of a residency… for now

Today has been the last day in the Derbyshire Children’s Hospital for our current residency. For the past year, four musicians have been visiting wards and outpatients areas at the hospital most Fridays to make music for and with patients, visitors and staff. This has been a hugely rewarding and incredibly musical experience for everyone, and we are extremely sad that the current residency has come to a close. We were joined at one point today by the stars of Derby’s pantomime (Dick Whittington) who were visiting the hospital. At one point we had a dame, a fairy godmother and Mr Whittington himself all joining in and enjoying the music-making. Fabulous! We also played for a very young patient who had just had grommets fitted ….

Thankyou for playing music to ‘P’ today, it was an absoliute delight. The music settled her, and it is the first thing she has heard properly since she was born. We couldn’t have asked for anything more soothing and well played to help with our daughter’s recovery in the first few hours after her operation. Many thanks.

We hope to be back in the hospital from April 2012, funding permitting, to carry on this amazing work.

Many thanks to Youth Music, Derby City Council, MusicLeader and Derbyshire Children’s Hospital for your support of this amazing project.