Great Western Harmony choir hit all the right notes

Posted: October 23, 2015

A treat for patients on our dementia-friendly ward

Choir 151023-400Elderly patients at the Great Western Hospital were given a different kind of medicine when they were treated to a surprise performance by hospital choir, Great Western Harmony. 

Made up entirely of members of staff, the choir performed a number of relaxing and soothing songs from their repertoire for the patients of Jupiter Ward, Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust's newly-refurbished dementia-friendly environment. 

The choir joined thousands of others across the country donning bright orange laces in support of #laceupforbones, the National Osteoporosis Society campaign which aims to raise awareness of osteoporosis and encourage people to take some exercise that will keep their bones strong and healthy. 

The performance, which is just one of Jupiter's many live music fixtures, was organised to help keep patients, many of whom have dementia, relaxed during their hospital stay. 

"A physical and psychological therapeutic effect"

Wendy Johnson, Divisional Matron for Care of the Older Person, said: "It is well known that music has both a physical and psychological therapeutic effect.

"As an acute care environment, we're always looking for ways in which we can make the patient experience more interesting and, where possible, enjoyable.

"Having live music on the ward is just one of the ways for us to achieve that." 

Teresa Harding, Divisional Director for Women's and Children's Services, has been a member of the choir since its inception last year.
She said: "We all get a real buzz from performing and seeing the patients enjoying our songs makes it all worthwhile." 

Research has shown that dementia patients who are relaxed will be more likely to eat their meals, sleep better at night and have an improved immune system, all of which can lead to a speedier recovery. 

Last year Jupiter Ward was completely refurbished as part of a £98,000 project, part funded by Trust charity Brighter Futures, which saw it transformed into a state-of-the-art dementia-friendly environment. 

The ward now has a non-shiny floor, which has helped to prevent falls as dementia patients often confuse shiny surfaces with pools of water.

Other changes include special clocks that say whether it is day or night, bed-side nursing stations so that staff can reach patients quicker and coloured plates to help dementia patients, who often overlook pale food when served on a white plate, to maintain a healthy diet.  

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