• Kate Millett

Human connections are crucial

Updated: Mar 5, 2021

Musician: Nat Keen (guitar)

Since our residency started at Bridgeside Lodge (BSL), in 2018, we have had regular contact with the community there. In 2020 alone, we have been either working alongside staff in our office (in the pre-Covid days), digitally connecting (during the first lockdown), having weekly garden gigs (from the summer, right up until the end of October), and having bi-weekly indoor sessions (since the autumn). Friendships have developed; trust and support have grown! The staff have become our colleagues and friends, while our genuine care and knowledge of the residents has strengthened. So, when BSL’s Center Manager, Fatma Makalo thanked us after a lovely chat on Friday afternoon, it really brought the importance of those relationships home to us. Human connections are crucial, especially in the current climate.

“Thank you for sharing the love, thank you for your conversation”

- Fatma Makalo, General Manager at BSL

BSL had a sleepy vibe as we visited each of the care home’s four floors. Many residents were napping, or sitting quietly in the lounges and communal areas. Reading his audience well, Nat played gentle folk songs and bluesy ballads. On the first floor, H.W and R, sat peacefully watching Nat’s fingers picking the strings of his guitar at expert speed. They were full of smiles and occasionally R (usually a keen dancer) would wave or tap in time to the music. H.W struggles with his hearing.

“I’m sorry I can’t hear you speaking very well, but I can hear the music.”

- Resident H.W, BSL

It's easy for us to forget that wearing masks, although completely necessary, has made life even harder for those who have hearing issues.

J, a Beatles fan, was thrilled to hear that Nat was a fellow admirer. During 'Hey Jude' (J’s request), his engagement and connection with the music was tangible. He locked eyes with Kate, from start to finish, while they sang together, his deep Baritone cracking with emotion. This song clearly has a deep meaning for him. M sat nearby, in her usual spot. She had been complaining of sore eyes when we arrived, but the music seemed to be a good distraction.

“Thank you, this is lovely. I don’t need anything else, just this music.”

- Resident M, BSL

E.J, A.K, and J.W all enjoyed 1:1 visits on the Ground Floor. A.K is a music wizz, and enjoys chatting about all his favourite bands. He was moved to tears when we played him one of his favourite Richard Thompson songs: 'The Dimming of The Day', and thrilled when we told him The Spitz was now making bi-weekly visits:

“I’ll look out for you then!”

- Resident A.K, BSL

Although it's been weeks since we started visiting a few times a week, A.K has been unwell and isolating so hasn't benefited from the extra music. E.J was also an active listener. She sang along to a couple of folk songs and hymns:

“I recognise them, but I don’t know where from.”

- Resident E.J, BSL

The only resident who didn’t seem to have caught the ‘sleepy train’, was J.C. Once we had passed him his guitar he was strumming away, joining in on songs and watching Nat to match his rhythm. He decided to name his guitar today:

"Eddie, because its a good strong name."

- Resident J.C, BSL

J.C's old neighbour at BSL was called Eddie. We wondered if this influenced his name choice. After a little jamming, J.C was inspired to bring in his own lyrics. Always up to date with the news, J.C enjoys chatting about current affairs. He put his sentiments for our PM to music, in a healthy expression of his feelings: “BJ is a ******”, a song which soon had accompanying verses and harmonies. J.C was grinning ear to ear when we finished:

“That was a really great session!”

- Resident J.C, BSL

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