The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra has expanded its Music for a While project to the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, to bring the pleasure of music to Bournemouth dementia patients.
Each year, more than 2,000 people with dementia or dementia-like symptoms are treated at Royal Bournemouth Hospital, and the hospital’s charity has funded a wide range of projects including activities to keep patients occupied and environmental changes to wards to make the hospital easier to navigate.
The pilot Music for a While projects at Poole, Portsmouth and Winchester hospitals were such a success that the BSO has extended the scheme to provide regular sessions at Royal Bournemouth Hospital and Dorset County Hospital and aims to expand to other hospitals across the region.
Lauren Daughtrey, a dementia and delirium nurse specialist, says: “The patients and their visitors enjoyed a range of pieces played by Neil Valentine, who played at their bedside.”
Neil provides an interactive musical workshop for the patients, getting them singing and creating verses, playing along to different songs with maracas or bells, and conducting Neil with a baton.
Neil also plays a variety of music for patients, ranging from Tchaikovsky to Frank Sinatra. He says: “As an instrumentalist I see the need for live music in our hospitals. It normalises moments, creating space for people to feel normal again without having to worry about language. It creates connections between families and visitors as conversations spring up around musical likes and dislikes.”
• The BSO’s work was recognised at the Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friendly Awards in November 2017, when it was awarded Dementia Friendly Organisation of the Year, and the orchestra was invited by Royal Patron HRH Princess Alexandra to celebrate the work with a performance in 2018 at Buckingham Palace.
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Pictured: Violinist Neil Valentine with Bournemouth Hospital staff.