“We’ll give you a hug through music.”
Updated: Jan 7
One can sometimes become blasé about the impact that music can have on people. Everyone likes music, right? But music is often seen as an extra, a space-filler during a meal or on a long drive.
When we arrived at Bridgeside Lodge on Saturday morning (one of our first and only weekend visits to date) the atmosphere was - and it’s difficult to pick a suitable adjective here - heavy. There weren’t as many people around as when we visit during the week and the usual smiles and greetings were not forthcoming. Staffing issues and the uncertainty around what restrictions might be imposed over Christmas (which was undoubtedly affecting us too) in addition to the constant overhanging cloud of the pandemic itself, made this entirely understandable. It was with a sense of determined responsibility then, that we made our way around the bedrooms and dining rooms of BSL.
Alice sang gospel spirituals to M in her room. In the dining room, she sang a beautiful Verdi aria to C. “Lei ha fatto bene” - “she did well!” We visited K, who wasn’t up for music on that occasion and politely declined a visit, this was rare for him as he’s usually very keen. It’s really important to give residents the agency to say no if they don’t feel like receiving us, especially when we’re asking them to invite us into their bedrooms.
When we went to M’s room she was very distressed. She was clearly in physical pain, lying awkwardly on her bed, as well as being emotionally upset too. She said she’d love some music “to take the pain away” and told us that she just wanted a cuddle. This was incredibly difficult to witness, partly because of the feeling of our own inability to help her physically, to give her the hug she really wanted. After a carer had made her more comfortable, Alice said “we’ll try and give you a hug through music.” She sang Can’t Help Falling In Love and Fly Me To The Moon. “Thank you, you’re beautiful and you sing beautifully.”
Making music when everyone is in a good mood is easy. It is when things are more difficult, or people seem a little less receptive, that our work is most essential, not an “optional-extra.”