Colten’s got talent

Cellist Caroline Pugh with resident Sylvia Stokes at Whitecliffe House. When Sylvia told Caroline she played the violin, Caroline brought her son’s violin in for Sylvia to try out and the pair played a duet of Amazing Grace

The power of music has helped keep spirits high for residents and staff

A love of music has brought much comfort, happiness and inspiration to residents and staff over the past year.

Homes have staged their own in-house entertainment, including wonderful singing, violin and piano playing.

Team members in different job roles have performed live and shared video clips filmed by colleagues. In quieter one-to-one moments, carers and companions have sat and shared a favourite song or two at a resident’s bedside.

One example of a group recording that has gone public is a cover of the Simon & Garfunkel hit Cecilia recorded on film by staff and residents at Kingfishers.

It was done as part of a national intergenerational initiative, Together with Music, which links care homes with schools and young people at a time when we have all had a taste of isolation. Kingfishers’ video features on the Together with Music Facebook and Instagram pages.

Kingfishers resident Betty Parker watches a performance by pianist Simon Woodley

Kingfishers residents also have their own ‘request show’ thanks to Bournemouth pianist Simon Woodley. Using tablet computers, staff at the home have been screening his performances directly to individual residents.

At Wellington Grange, residents have been marvelling at the talent of Healthcare Assistant Sarah Yffer, a former professional violinist.

Violinist and Healthcare Assistant Sarah Yffer at Wellington Grange

When she lived in Australia in her late teens and 20s, Sarah played with various orchestras accompanying celebrities such as Elton John, Tony Bennett, John Williams and Julio Iglesias.

Bethan Bayliss, guitarist and Companionship Team Member at Linden House, has learned many residents’ favourites and pleasantly surprises people when she plays their special song.

Fernhill Companionship Team Member Anne Marie Knight had just started to sing professionally as part of a duo when performance restrictions were put in place. She continues to sing for residents.

Elsewhere, other team members have given solo performances, sometimes stepping out of their comfort zones. They include Abbotts Barton Healthcare Assistant Kirby Sharp who sang publicly for the first time in a Christmas video.

At the same time, we have recently strengthened our Companionship Team with a host of specialist ‘creative companions’ who lead interactive singalongs and music sessions.

Fifteen of our 21 homes now have at least one experienced musician in their team or are actively supporting residents with musical interactions.

New recruits include guitarist, teacher and performer Mark Austin at Court Lodge, and Tom Clements, a singer and guitarist, at Abbey View. Tom has released two albums, won music awards in Salisbury and Dorset, and was a semi-finalist in ‘Bournemouth Unplugged’.

Natasha Fisher is a dance academy graduate who uses her musical talents to lead group sessions at St Catherines View, singing with her guitar or keyboard. Also at the home are Southampton Solent University music student Lois Howard-Walsh and University of Chichester music performance graduate Naomi Rides.

Natasha Fisher playing at St Catherines View

Salisbury music teacher and university lecturer Anna Boddy joined Braemar Lodge, delighting residents by taking a portable piano into bedrooms to play.

Pianist and cellist Caroline Pugh, a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, is working at Whitecliffe House, while singer Rebecca Osborne, a visiting entertainer for several years, has joined Avon Cliff.

At Belmore Lodge, Lauren Cooper, a singer and guitarist, leads music sessions while fellow companion Joanne Hope sings to residents who are resting and relaxing in their rooms.

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