Music proves a tonic

21 November 2018 | Scotland

Music In Hospitals

An Edinburgh hospital has become the first to take part in a new project to bring music into hospitals in Scotland. ICU Hear has just been rolled out by Music in Hospital and Care (MiHC).

For many patients in the ICU at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, this may be the first time in weeks or even months that they have heard music played live. And for a few wonderful moments, all thoughts of their illness and ill-health are swept away as they tune in to afamiliar song.

MiHC was founded by Sheila McCreery, who came up with the idea after experiencing first-hand the impact that live music had on wounded servicemen in military hospitals during WWII, and the work of the Entertainments National Services Association, ENSA.

Director for MiHC in Scotland, Claire Bennett says: “After the closure of ENSA, our charity was set up soon after in 1948 – this year sees us celebrating our 70th birthday, bringing the joy of live music to all.

“Now, we provide more than 4500 interactive live music sessions across the country a year, reaching more than 100,000 people, with 1,600 of these concerts reaching 30,000 people across Scotland. We aim to bring the therapeutic benefits of live music to people of all ages, living with an illness or disability for overall quality of life. Live music can transform care environments.”

MiHC auditions professional musicians and arranges for them to visit hospitals and care homes, and in Scotland they have more than 100 musicians on their books. “They visit healthcare settings, where many residents suffer from dementia, or have long term conditions that leave them at risk of isolation,” she explains.

“We also provide live music to young people with additional support needs and in care.

“Music reaches people, it can take them back to happier times, triggering happy, often emotional memories. Our musicians brighten people’s day and provide a boost to reduce stress and anxiety, particularly for families and carers.”

The musicians visit solo or in duos, cover different genres and can include singers, percussionists and flautists.

“We get a lot of requests,” says Claire. “Some popular Scottish songs that always pop up are Wild Mountain Thyme, Caledonia and Loch Lomond. We even arrange for musicians to tour day centres, care homes and special needs schools in Shetland, making sure we reach people as far as we can.

“To continue and keep growing our work though, we need to raise £550,000 for MiHC Scotland each year. But we have such great community support and would like to thank all those who support us year on year. We just want to keep our songs playing for everyone.”

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