Sharing learning around live music and wellbeing in Northern Ireland

27th February 2024

Last year we embarked on a three year project with two health and social care trusts in Northern Ireland to explore regular programmes of live music and the benefits this can have for patients and staff.

Sharing live music on a regular basis builds meaningful relationships between our professional musicians, our health and care partners, and the people they support. This approach helps our musicians to understand the needs and preferences of those who take part and gives people something to look forward to that isn’t focused around medical treatment. Providing longer programmes of live music also allows us to better evaluate the impact of music in these settings, and work towards embedding live music as a vital part of people’s health and social care.

During the first year of the project we have worked with the Arts in Health Manager at Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, and the Health & Wellbeing Manager at Northern Health and Social Care Trust. Both trusts have established approaches to arts in health and are supportive of live music as a therapeutic experience for both patients and staff.

20 hours of live music have been shared so far across four hospital settings for older people living with dementia and adults with drug and alcohol problems. One patient said that they had the “best day, all I did was laughed and smiled” and another said that it “made my anxiety reduce. It was good for my mood and made me relaxed.”

The live music has also been beneficial for staff, with many saying it increased communication and interaction on the wards and improved their mental health and wellbeing.

“We as staff value the session. It validates our worth, and undoubtedly brings pleasure and happiness for the remainder of the day. Listening to some of the very skilled musicians is also soothing and relaxing, not just for patients but for staff. It gives time out from a busy day, allowing one to get lost in the music.”
Staff member at Holywell Hospital, Antrim

“It felt like we were all sharing enjoyment and feelings about the songs together. By the end there was a lovely atmosphere and a good few jokes too. The group seemed to have really enjoyed the session.”
Music in Hospitals & Care musician

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