“I get to work and change out of my “street clothes” into my “ward clothes.” The Art Therapist I sit 2m away from in our office jokes that it’s like a magic show ...and now my lovely assistant will go into the other room, and *POOF* Voila, Music Therapist.
I’m in Older People Mental Health and most of the people I work with are living with dementia. Times are tough; visitation and excursions have stopped. I feel grateful that I can continue my service, and I feel the gratitude from the wards who do brilliantly to plan ward-based activities and engage with families remotely.
With clothes changed, I approach the ward with a tray of instruments and a guitar on my back. Time for my next costume change: apron, gloves, mask – check; and I’m ready to go in.
First session is on a video call. The family haven’t seen their father in months. We establish connection, and mother and daughter appear in the screen saying hello. He doesn’t respond, but we mimic their hellos and then he says, “…hello.” I begin to sing a song and the family joins in, he is listening and just in the final chorus joins in, “Que sera sera…whatever will be will be” The family gasp and smile, tears streaming, as we sing on.
The patients don’t quite know why we’re wearing masks, but the Quality Improvement team have made big stickers of our faces to wear on our aprons. Today is one of those rare days of Scottish sun, and the garden is a sun-trap so we do the group out there. The ward staff comes outside to join. It’s hot behind our masks but our eyes smile out as we sing old favourites, playing drums and tambourines. I lead with guitar as people clap, reapply sunscreen and sing. It’s an hour of sunshine, music, togetherness and laughing. Today is a good day.”