St Pancras Hospital & Riverview Lodge
Updated: Dec 15, 2021
Wednesday 1st December was a double-session day. Jazz vocalist Louise Messenger and guitarist Laurence Corns visited Riverview Lodge Care Home in NW London, while guitarist brothers Nat and Barney Keen made their third trip to St Pancras Hospital.
Musicians: Louise Messenger (vocals) Laurence Corns (guitar)
Riverview Lodge Care Home, NW9
As part of our campaign of expansion, we're sourcing more sites where our work can help to tackle social isolation. Riverview Lodge is a residential care home in the London Borough of Brent and is home to 36 residents (around half the size of Bridgeside Lodge). This was our first time of visiting this particular care home and Laurence and Louise were immediately made to feel welcome by staff and carers.
We'd sent posters in advance of the event so a sense of anticipation could be created in the week leading up to our visit. This was evident on our arrival: "Ooo are you the musicians!?" Residents were encouraged to come into the communal lounges and the audience grew and grew as Louise and Laurence took manager Manjit's direction as to where they should perform.
Residents were treated to a wide selection of music. Jazz standards, gospel numbers and show tunes were on the setlist as Louise and Laurence played on each of the three floors of the home.
While there we met the daughter of resident N, who has Alzheimer's. She later told us about the impact our visit had had on her mum:
"I'm properly reeling from that. It's taking a while for me to process.
I've just been watching the videos I took and she's absolutely
sparkling. That feeling will last for days for her. People with
Alzheimer's forget things but they don't forget emotions.
I'm so grateful for what you did for her. They [the musicians]
were amazing, I feel so overwhelmed and lucky. Thank you so much.
Musicians: Nathaniel Keen & Barney Keen (both guitar & vocals)
St Pancras Hospital, NW1
Today saw the return of myself and Barnaby to St Pancras hospital. We really enjoyed our last visit where we'd played in a busy and baking hot kitchen/lounge area and ended up witnessing some amazing dancing from both residents and staff alike. This time we were invited to play in a different communal area where residents were encouraged to come and go as they pleased (they pleased much more when mince pies were advertised).
Playing in this environment differs greatly from our work in Bridgeside Lodge where our interactions often take place in the rooms of each resident. Through the continuity of our visits and the ability for residents to be in the privacy and comfort of their own rooms, we are able to develop long-standing relationships with a greater understanding of their needs. At St Pancras hospital (being a ward for people with psychotic disorders) there is a greater emphasis on security so room visits are not permitted. With this in mind, Lydia (a member of the St Pancras team) suggested that we play in one communal place.
We played through many songs and genres spanning from English Folk to North-Eastern Brazilian Forro. It soon became evident that this was not only a chance for residents to enjoy the music, but also for the hard-working staff. We noticed tired-looking staff slumping back into their chairs and taking 5 minutes to reflect and let their minds wander off into another place. One particular staff member told us that he loved country music and that he enjoys listening to the age-old stories of unrequited love, morality and sailors missing their home port. We had a large segment of Beatles/Bob Marley requests from staff and residents alike and it was amazing to see everybody interacting on a level playing field, there's no hint of status or authority when everybody is singing 'Here Comes The Sun' together.
At one point a stern looking resident sat down 2 metres in front of us with a packet of crisps and after demolishing them he appeared to engage with the music, subtly moving his legs and rocking his head. After we'd finished playing, Lydia approached me to say that they were all really surprised and happy to see him react in this way as he usually prefers to be completely reclusive and not engage with his surroundings.
Towards the end of the day - after mince pies - a staff member approached me to say thank you and that she has a contact at a hospital in Lambeth where she thinks music would be very much appreciated. So, watch this space for a potential new musical venture for the Spitz team!