How music is spreading Christmas cheer in nursing homes – Telegraph.co.uk

Residents at seven nursing homes across the UK can look forward to live carol concerts this Christmas, thanks to a renewed partnership between Everest and charity Music in Hospitals & Care.

The events will take place in conservatories at the nursing homes, and will help to get residents, their families and friends, and staff members in the Christmas spirit.

Live music has been shown to have many therapeutic benefits. Studies show that it can lower anxiety and levels of the stress hormone cortisol, improve the body’s immune system functioning and help with pain relief.

Such concerts also provide an opportunity for those in care to socialise with friends, staff and relatives in what can sometimes be an isolating environment.

Around 200 people enjoyed live music in nursing homes courtesy of the first concert series put on by Music in Hospitals & Care and sponsored by Everest, between November 2016 and last July. Ninetyfive per cent of those who were there reported increased social interaction afterwards and 89 per cent felt an improved mood and raised spirits.

One such concert was held in the conservatory at Bupa Arbrook House, Esher, in March. Kailey Dinan, receptionist at the care home, says: “We had a lovely gentleman who came in to play music. He was really chatty and friendly, and he played music that was upbeat. He got everyone involved and lots of staff members and relatives of residents came to listen.

“A lot of our residents are in wheelchairs so they can’t stand, but their arms were moving and they were smiling.

“We’ve got two conservatories here, which were built in the last few years. One joins our dining room and lets a lot of light in from the garden so residents can enjoy the view when they’re eating. We’ve got another conservatory in our hairdressing salon – it’s bright and warm, and you get a lot of plants growing in there.”

A conservatory with a dining table and chairs with a Christmas centrepiece

Winter warmer: a conservatory allows you to enjoy the outdoors while keeping cosy inside

Another concert was held in the conservatory at nursing and residential home Oakridge House in Basingstoke in July this year, where a singer was joined by an instrumentalist. Lorraine West, activities co-ordinator at the home, says it was a memorable afternoon.

“It was a lovely sing-along and it was well attended – about 45 residents came together to enjoy it. The residents were singing along and some even got up to dance near their chairs. Music is such a big part of them and they love it. We have residents who have dementia, others whose sight is impaired and some who find it hard to hear, but they all get something out of it.

“Events like this take the residents out of their everyday routine and leave a lasting, positive impression.”

Music in Hospitals & Care has been providing live music in healthcare since 1948. Emily Winchester, senior fundraising officer, says the charity is looking forward to working with Everest once again.

“We rely entirely on grants and donations from companies, trusts and foundations, so it’s brilliant to be able to deliver these concerts at a greater level, reach more people and spread some joy,” she says.

For more information, visit everest.co.uk

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