Hannah Beadsworth, Development Officer for Wales on Ward East 18, Llandough Hospital, Penarth

The East 18 ward at Llandough Hospitals is an 18-bed mixed ward for patients with severe Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSD). In the last year Music in Hospitals Cymru has organised and funded 6 live music concerts here, with a variety of genres and styles. Performances at East 18 tend to be slightly shorter than a ‘standard’ concert, as patients do often struggle to concentrate for a whole hour.

The concerts at East 18 are just like any other concerts in many ways, and not part of a specific project, however, to me, there is one particular performance that really stands out as special. The concert took place mid-August this year, and when I arrived, acoustic guitar duo Huw & Mel were just beginning their set. Many of the patients were snoozing and daydreaming, sitting hunched in their chairs. Within a couple of minutes, a few residents started to join in with singing, and I noticed one elderly lady “Elsie” started grinning: a huge spread across her face. Although she was non-verbal, she was clearly ‘singing’ along, and began tapping her feet and clapping her hands. Suddenly she leapt out of her chair, grasped her wooden walking stick and, to everyone’s delight, started to play it like an electric guitar! Huw & Mel sensitively encouraged her to join them at the front and be ‘part of the band’. She was in her element, laughing out loud. One of the nurses winked at me, whispering You’d never believe she was 93!

I found the concert very moving, and it clearly had a powerfully positive effect on the patients. Without the fantastic funding we receive at MIHC Cymru, concerts like these wouldn’t be able to take place, meaning elderly, unwell and vulnerable people like Elsie wouldn’t experience the pure joy of live music.

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