• Thom Rowlands

Hospital jigs

Updated: 7 days ago

Musicians: Alice Zawadzki (violin, vocals) Ben Hazleton (double bass)

We returned to Northwick Park Hospital (NPH) on Thursday to play for patients on Hardy and Fielding Wards. Ben Hazleton was making his fourth appearance, kindly showing the ropes to Alice Zawadzki on her NPH debut.

We were met by our friend Alex, Matron for Older People and Dementia Services and escorted upstairs to the wards. En route we bumped into Dr Mahua Chatterjee, a dementia consultant with whom we are planning our next large-scale project. (more on that in a few weeks hopefully!)

We're getting to know the staff and were met with smiles and "Welcome back!"s. During our last visit Alex said “Not a day goes by without the staff asking when the music’s coming back.” The patient turnover, on the other hand is much quicker than at somewhere like Bridgeside Lodge so we had an entirely new set of patients to meet and entertain.

Afterwards Alice said she felt they’d "made a real difference to lots of people today, lots of smiling faces.” She also commented that there are certain songs that always seem to have a profound impact on at least some of the participants. A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square and Over The Rainbow were two in particular that she cited. We’ve seen the same at Bridgeside. This photo was taken during Nightingale yesterday. We wish we could show you the face of the woman on the left. She was mesmerised.

Activites co-ordinator for Dementia and Older People, Amber Scotting told us a bit about how her job works - if a patient is particularly struggling or depressed or anxious, they will be referred to Amber who will spend time with them 1-to-1. (doing a puzzle or watching a film) She said of one of today's participants:

"The woman who was waving and smiling and dancing in her bed was totally different earlier today. She was very aggressive and argumentative this morning. The music has totally changed her mood.”

It never ceases to amaze us, how quickly a person's mood can change when live music is brought into their environment. A gentleman on Hardy Ward, not at all impressed with the arrival of Ben and Alice, shouting for them to stop before they'd even started, was later heard to exclaim “Sure, that’s some ****ing great music!”

A sentiment we certainly agree with...

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