There’s been a lot of change for us over the summer but we are over the moon to share our news with you!!
Wishing Well has just launched as a brand new Community Interest Company! Meet our 3 Directors: Marie Benton, CEO of Choir with No Name, Janet Lee, Children’s Critical Care Practitioner at The Royal Alex in Brighton and Jo White who has been with the programme since it’s creation. We are committed to continuing Wishing Well’s work; bringing the joy of music-making right to the heart of healthcare to enrich the lives of people young and old while they are in hospital. Tricky times are when we turn to the arts to help us express how we feel, connect with others and uplift ourselves. We’re going to make sure that people and their families, spending long days and weeks in hospital get to do just that.
There’s been a lot of change for us over the summer but we are over the moon to share our news with you!!
We are delighted to launch an evaluation report of our Wishing Well Music in Healthcare programme at The Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton. This report, created by East Midlands based organisation Well Within Reach, offers insights and resources for people working in the field of Culture and Health who are interested in deepening their understanding of how participatory music making can build relationships that benefit everyone on the hospital ward.
We wanted to work with Well Within Reach to better understand how music can support a child’s developing brain and nervous system during the potentially traumatic experience of being in hospital. The report presents key findings following a year of collaboration, observations and training.
What is in the report?
The report is made up of 2 main sections.
First, a series of case studies of our work at The Alex, seen through a “3 stage relationship” model.This provides a way of understanding the process of beginning, strengthening and ending musical interactions in hospitals where Musicians work in sensitive and often unpredictable situations.
The second section offers a tool kit of evidence, research and methodologies relevant to our work. We hope these resources will be useful to music practitioners, health professionals and funders who want to deepen their understanding of how music making and person centred interactions can create nurturing, expressive, therapeutic environments for children in hospital.
We’d like to say a huge thank you to all the children and young people, families and staff at The Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton for making music with us and supporting our work. Our partnership demonstrates the amazing things that can happen when health and cultural organisations work together.
Thank you to Well Within Reach for taking us on such a fascinating journey of learning, reflection and inspiration.
Thank you to The National Foundation for Youth Music and to BBC Children in Need for funding the Wishing Well programme and this evaluation.
Projects like Wishing Well at the Alex are only made possible by our generous supporters.
Last night was an amazing night for Wishing Well – we were a finalist at the HSJ awards!!! It was wonderful to receive this recognition of the amazing partnership that we’ve developed with The Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital over the past 6 years.
Being a finalist in this prestigious awards, and having our work recognised on a national level is a huge honor. We would like to congratulate all of last nights finalists and winners!
We are delighted to have our work featured in Brighton and Hove County Council’s ‘The Art of Good Health’ report. The report highlights the positive impact that being involved in the arts can have on health and wellbeing from cradle to grave. The report demonstrates that the arts can be delivered in almost any setting, including hospitals.
The report features our work at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital. Our trained music leaders go onto the wards three times a week, bringing acoustic instruments and music technology right to children’s bedsides. The interactions provide vital stimulation to help them develop, distracts from uncomfortable procedures, and creates a sense of community between children, families, and hospital staff. You can read our case study in the report here.
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!
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/
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.’’
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.”
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.
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”
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.