• Thom Rowlands

Best friends for life

Musicians: Kat Eaton (vocals) Pete Lee (piano)


A busy week for The Spitz was rounded off with a visit from Pete Lee and Kat Eaton. They were keen to meet some new residents, or at the very least spend time with residents who they may not have played for before.


This is something that we're constantly aware of. In a care environment in which many different conditions and differing severities of those conditions exist, it is inevitable that some residents will be more engaged, more vocal and more responsive (and vice versa). We consider it to be part of the responsibility inherent in our work to consider the needs of all residents and not to spend more time with those able to give the most conspicuous responses.


Playing for resident SR for the first time, Pete explained:


When we first arrived, her body language had been quite defensive, she scrunched herself up and made as if to turn away from us. By the third song this had completely changed. She became really warm, making eye contact and smiling. She kept saying thank you, thank you.


She has difficultly communicating verbally but she was smiling and attentive which was lovely. When [carer] Danial came in to the room and said “we are best friends for…” she loudly and confidently answered “LIFE!"

 

Pete and Kat decided that as it could be their last session together before Christmas they would only be singing Christmas songs.


"We did a few of my favourite carols - 'Silent Night', 'In The Bleak

Midwinter', 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' and 'Once In

Royal David City'. There's a real universality to these songs, especially

among older generations, they're so emotive.

 

Today's session was the first time Kat had met DB, a resident who we can see enjoys the music but has some social anxiety which often means he will hover on the periphery of a session, observing and absorbing rather than directly participating. Kat and Pete discussed how we can enable him to enjoy music on his own terms, without feeling pressured:

“We should go gently, offer him some music that's just for him.

Maybe just instrumental? Or play outside his room so he

can enjoy it but not feel like he has to directly engage."

 

Resident JS enjoyed their rendition of 'Silent Night'. Pete explained that he had seen a video of a previous session in which [pianist] Arthur Lea had played a very gentle piece and that JS had responded with an interpretive dance (rather than his usual finger-drumming) Kat continued: -


"He was sort of conducting us, when I sang high he stretched

up, when I sang low he crouched down. He was following

the shape of the melody. He told us about being in a

choir years ago, when he was in and out of the Navy."


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