“Live music is essential for patients in critical care”

14th October 2022

Caroline Barker has been a Senior Charge Nurse in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh’s Intensive Care and High Dependency Units for over 25 years. Our musicians have recently been able to go back into critical wards at the hospital for the first time since before the pandemic.

“The ward is a very fast paced environment and can be stressful and noisy for patients and relatives with multiple alarms, buzzers and staff interactions. We aim to have a quiet hour in the middle of the day when we put down the lights and try, where possible, not to be hands on with the patients.”

Patients have had such a positive response to the live music and we really missed it over past two years. For patients who are awake it is a link to normal life. Some sedated patients
on ventilators we see relax, with a noticeable change in their vital signs. For those who are agitated and distressed, we can see the calming effects when they are listening to the music.

I think live music is essential for the patients and their relatives in critical care as it helps to make the experience feel a little more human and less frightening. It evokes many memories, particularly for our older patients, and this helps staff to learn and connect more with the patient in the bed. Many patients are also able to request a tune which is lovely.

The live music sessions are well received by staff – it is very calming and allows us all to stop for a moment and enjoy it with the patients. It brings a human touch to us all in this very busy environment. We can feel ourselves relax and it lifts the atmosphere.”

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