Another Award! Rhythmix Music Teacher Awards for Excellence Finalist

Rhythmix are thrilled to be a finalist in the Music Teacher Awards for Excellence Outstanding Musical Initiative category. The award recognises initiatives that have made a sustained contribution to the musical achievement of a large number of people.

Rhythmix has been helping to transform lives through the power of music for nearly 20 years. Over that time we’ve worked with tens of thousands of people. From children’s wards, mental health units, special schools, inclusive clubs and dementia wards, we help people connect and express themselves through the power of music. The awards ceremony will take place on 6th March 2019 at the Sheraton Grand London Park Lane Hotel in Piccadilly. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our supporters, funders and musicians who help make our work possible and mean that we can win awards like this!

Board member Jane Humberstone said, ‘’I have seen first hand the transformational effect of the music programmes delivered by our outstanding, dedicated music practitioners and am incredibly proud to be the deputy chair of this ground-breaking charity.’’

For more information on the Music Teacher Awards for Excellence please visit: https://musicanddramaeducationexpo.co.uk/london/awards/categories/

Hello from Rhythmix’s newest recruit!

Hi folks!
I’m Rachel – the newest recruit at Rhythmix, in the role of Project Assistant for the Wishing Well programme. I’m super excited to be on board with Rhythmix and I’m already getting stuck in to the planning for 2019.  What a fabulous charity and ethos… a joy to be a part of!
I come from an Arts background, having been an art teacher in East Sussex and then branching out into community engagement and project management.  Career-wise, I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing individuals and organisations over the last 15 years; including a 6 year stint at the Royal Albert Hall, as community engagement officer and various Arts/Education engagement roles at charities and venues down in Devon including the Hannah Rogers Trust and Torre Abbey.   I’m a visual artist and a music-maker – currently prioritising all things connected with creativity, health and well-being in my life.
I’m passionate about using the arts to care, connect and collaborate and feel that music – in all its gloriously diverse forms – is a vital component in a healthy community and all of its individuals.  Facing health issues myself, I’m a complete convert to the use of music in healthcare settings – our hospitals and hospices are such alien environments, far removed from what we’re all used to day-to-day, so isn’t music (making and listening!) a brilliant way to bridge the gap between hospital and home… not to mention the positive impact that music can have on our brains and nervous systems!!  So yeah – I’m in!
When I’m not at Wishing Well, I’m mostly painting birds at the moment (hence the Canada Geese!).  You can find my work on Instagram @Racheypainter if you like!  I’m also really interested in storytelling, folklore, illustration and singing… so an all-round creative bod, looking forward to taking music out there 🙂

Rhythmix is Sussex Business Awards Finalist!

Rhythmix are delighted to be shortlisted for the Sussex Business Awards in the Creative and Digital Skills category.

This is in recognition of our innovative use of inclusive technology to help people make music. From young people with physical and learning disabilities to older people living with dementia, we’re using technology creatively to build a bridge to people and help them build connections through music.

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Music Helps People With Dementia Reconnect

We are delighted to announce the release of a short film by the Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust showing our Wishing Well programmes work with older people living with dementia in Community Hospitals. We use music to build a bridge across the isolation caused by dementia, helping people to connect with the people around them again.

Lead Nurse Lucy Frost told us that, ”It brings the patients and staff and visitors all together, and it helps us  also known a little bit about the patient, because to every point in somebody’s life, they often have a song about it.”

Wishing Well brings live music-making interactions right to people’s bedsides and to communal spaces to help relieve the anxiety and isolation that they can experience. Soundtracks we accumulate throughout our lives are vividly retained in the memories of people even in the late stages of dementia. We  tap into these soundtracks to reduce some of the anxiety they experience.

”It changed the whole environment of our hospital. The staff are more motivated to try different things with the patients, they have introduced games, and the patients find it fun and when you are reflecting fun, than you get fun back, it creates a really good atmosphere.” Nurse reflects on the effect that music has on the hospital.

Our work is only made possible by our generous supporters please click donate and help us continue to bring music to people!

Dragons give their support to Wishing Well in community hospitals!

After an inspiring (and challenging!) ‘Dragon’s Den’ style event on Friday 28th September,  we’re thrilled to have won the backing of Kent, Surrey and Sussex Dementia Care Improvement Network for our project with Sussex Community NHS.
 
As part of a drive to work in partnership with more community hospitals, we’ll be placed initially within Crawley Hospital, bringing live music to those living with dementia.  We can’t wait to get going!
 
We’re thrilled to be able to build on this work and extend our thanks once again for the generosity of the KSSDCIN.
To learn about the impact that music-making can have on those living with dementia, watch our recent feasibility study here.

Rhythmix Impact Report 2017

Rhythmix are delighted to announce the launch of our Impact Report for 2017. We’ve done some amazing work and we want to share!

Our annual impact report gives a snapshot of what we achieved in 2017, none of which would have been possible without our supporters, funders and musicians.

Everyone knows someone who would benefit from what we do at Rhythmix. We all have experiences of friends or family members spending time in hospital,
with a physical or learning disability, with Dementia, or mental health issues. Music can build a bridge and help us connect again.

You can read the full report here.

Rhythmix chair Alastair Beddow said that,

‘’I was thrilled to take on the role of Chair of Trustees in 2017. It was a year marked by incredible music- making in incredible settings. We continue to reach vulnerable individuals and use music to improve their health and wellbeing. Thank you to everybody who has made this happen in 2017.’’ 

The amazing work that we do is only made possible by the generous support of our funders and supporters. If you want to help us to continue to do this important work then please donate here.

Rhythmix shortlisted for HSJ Award alongside the Royal Alex!

We’re over the moon to announce that our work with The Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton has been shortlisted for a highly prestigious HSJ Award! Through our Wishing Well programme, we’ve been making music with children and families in critical care at The Alex since 2013 and now, “Wishing Well at The Alex” is shortlisted in the “compassionate care” category. Partnership working is at the heart of our project’s success and enables to work with the poorliest children and their families and make a difference to their time in hospital. When we make music together, the hospital ward becomes a place where ideas are flowing, people are expressing themselves and showing what they can do …amid all the loss and trauma of long hospital stays, creating this bubble of safety can make a huge difference.

Reflecting on the news, Children’s Critical Care Practitioner Janet Lee said that,
“It is our job to make sure that we enrich the lives of the children and families that we look after in as many ways as possible whilst they are in our care – music is one of the ways that we can do that”.

For more information on the national HSJ Awards, please visit: https://awards.hsj.co.uk/

Thank you Arts Council England!

We are celebrating a grant of £39,726 from Arts Council England to support our work with older people living with dementia in acute hospital settings!

The funding will support Rhythmix’s Wishing Well Music in Healthcare programme which brings live music making to the bedsides of people living with dementia while they are in hospital.

This new programme will enable our team, of Musicians in Healthcare, to bring their vocal, instrumental and technology skills right to the heart of healthcare. Making music with people at their bedsides helps to shine a light on people’s talents, creativity and life stories; it celebrates what people living with dementia can do and helps support wellbeing during the challenges of hospitalisation.

The Wishing Well Musicians in Healthcare are a team, dedicated to bringing creative experiences into hospital settings where music can have a profound impact on wellbeing –  get a glimpse of their work in our short films  here

Commenting on the grant Jane Humberstone, Vice Chair at Rhythmix, said:

‘’Wishing Well is one of the deepest experiences I have had when observing the impact of music on the brain. Music is part of our everyday life and we all know it is good for us. Many of us are lucky enough to have a life transformed by it. However, to have confirmed that it continues to have such positive effects even into late dementia truly uplifting. I cannot think of a better cause. Thank you to Arts Council England for their continued support for this work.’’

Positive Interactions with Patients and Families

Our team of “Wishing Well” musicians bring music-making right to the bedsides of children and young people in hospital, helping to create positive experiences at a really difficult time for families. 

Making music together provides a way of expressing and releasing stress; a moment of fun that has nothing to do with illness or the frightening things that hospitalisation can involve. It’s a very normal thing in fact; playing musical games or singing lullabies with your baby but in the extraordinary world of the hospital, music-making takes on many extra layers of significance.

One of the many challenges for children who are in hospital for long periods of time is that most of the adults they meet are medical professionals who need to carry out uncomfortable, sometimes stressful procedures and interventions. The youngest child will quickly associate “someone is coming into my room” with “something uncomfortable is going to happen” It can put children in a state of stress. Having musicians on hospital wards, as part of the multi-disciplinary team that supports children, can work towards redressing this balance by creating fun, safe, child focused interactions that ask “what can you do?” rather than “what is wrong with you?

One of our Musician’s writes:

“We gently played music by the door to a little boy’s room. A passing Doctor commented “he’ll cry if you go in!” but Mum caught our eye and waved to us. We very gently approached the little boy, crouched down near to him and started singing nursery rhymes, looking for a response to show us which one he liked. He was withdrawn at first, suspicious of what we might do but the introduction of our brightly coloured percussion was too much for him to resist. As he explored the sounds of the different instruments, Mum suggested his favourite lullaby and for a while, we all sat, singing and playing together, all anxiety forgotten and the rest of the hospital, a million miles away.”

Feel better in a better ward: Internal and external challenges in a children’s ward mitigated by music

The outcomes that Rhythmix work towards and capture have emerged in the course of work in children and young people’s healthcare settings. Our intention to reduce anxiety and isolation and increase self expression is widely supported by the healthcare staff who have helped to shape and guide our work right from the beginning. They recognise both the need to address these issues as part of the care they offer and the effectiveness of live music making in meeting them. In this two part series we explore internal and external factors affecting our work in children’s wards and units and mental health units.

We’ve all felt it. You’re going through your day feeling a bit grumpy, maybe a bit ill or sad, and then a car alarm starts blaring. It get’s into your head. You get irritable, agitated, angry, distressed. We take it out on others, and you go from feeling under the weather to suddenly feeling a whole lot worse.

This is the everyday experience of a child in the pediatric Critical Care unit of a hospital. Dealing with an illness or issue that requires hospitalisation, a child is already feeling anxious, sad and upset. Then they have to contend with beeping machines echoing on plastic floors, the sounds of other people being upset or crying, hurried footsteps and the frequent ominous alarms. The sounds around a person in hospital only make a person feel less at ease on a ward. Coupled with the monitors, wires and apparatus around a hospital bed Critical Care Practitioner Janet Lee of The Alex explains “even our beds don’t look like beds and our tables don’t look like tables. There is little here to make the children feel safe”.

But Rhythmix’s Wishing Well team is making a change to handle both the internal upsets and external factors that make a hospital stay difficult, unpleasant and at times traumatic. By bringing live, interactive music making right to the bedside we are helping improve the experience for children in hospital.

Internal Factors

Amongst the internal factors making a stay unpleasant, babies born in hospital who stay for a long period of time often find it difficult to create attachments to a primary caregiver. This can lead to a lack of resilience and mental health issues in later life. Disabled children spending long periods of their early years in hospital also learn to associate adults with pain and lack of communication due to often being spoken about instead of spoken to. Additionally, family bonds can become strained as there are few opportunities for activities that normalize positive family interaction and activities.

Helping disabled children in hospital develop even very preliminary music skills can help build internal strength. Our Wishing Well musicians help children make music, and families are encouraged to respond with mirroring or complimentary sounds and communication, and encourage and praise any self-expression.

Music making can also be instigated by child or parent as a way of reducing anxiety or loneliness in the long term by providing an ever-present tool that can be used at any time. This allows children to connect to their family in a way that can be carried on at home, or in the hospital when Wishing Well musicians are not there.

A medical student from Brighton and Hove Medical School who observed our work in hospitals in 2016 as part of a placement recognised the rebuilding of internal family bonds thanks to music, explaining “When we go into a room, quite often the family seem disconnected. Parents might be on phones, children are often watching TV but as soon as we start playing music, the family come together. They physically move closer and start to connect more. Parents start to encourage the child and respond to whatever he or she is doing. Laughter breaks out and sometimes tears. The family is drawn together by music”

External Factors

On the external factors, music can distract and ease the pressure from the hospital soundscape and can distract from treatment. Children and young people frequently have medical procedures done to them such as dressing changes or injections. Some of these are uncomfortable, painful and distressing. One staff member commented in the staff survey at The Alex “They played music and engaged with child when I had to do a potentially painful procedure. The child was compliant and it made the child feel relaxed and they were calm throughout making a difficult situation much easier for child and family and staff. “

But what impact is music having in the long term on the young people’s lives? It’s hard to tell. Some of the children we work with have a very uncertain future so the best we can do for them is to have an impact on their wellbeing in the moment of the interaction. We hope that the sense of human connection and calm will stay with them but it is very difficult to collect data that supports an outcome over time with these children. They may experience a sudden change in their health condition that understandably over rides the work we have done with them an hour or two previously. At least some of our work is best evaluated in the moment.

Importantly though, we have an overwhelming amount of evidence from participants, families and staff in feedback, film and surveys that demonstrates just how effective live music making is in reducing anxiety and isolation. When a child has a complicated picture of health, and the future is uncertain, any opportunity to make a period of time better should be relished.

When the external factors such as soundscapes and procedures are distressing, and internally family bonds and communication are weak, music is the tool that can address both of these simultaneously whilst forming happy memories and musical skills.