Frequently Asked Questions

1.   Who is the end user of Room 217 music care resources?
2.   What is unique about Room 217 music?
3.   What kind of situations is Room 217 music appropriate for?
4.   How do you know that the Room 217 Music Collection is appropriate music?
5.   Where is Room 217 music being used?
6.   How do I offer music to someone who is sick or dying?
7.   Why do you see music as a complementary resource for caregivers?
8.   Why does Room 217 music work so well in end of life care?
9.   Why is Room 217 music produced so slowly?
10. Are Room 217 resources only for spiritual people?
11. Where did the name Room 217 come from?
12. What is the difference between music care, music therapy and music medicine?

1. Who is the end user of Room 217 music care resources?

The target delivery group for the Room 217 Music Collection is people in end-of-life settings, in long term care, and in home care, and their caregivers – i.e., those who will be able to offer and integrate the music into existing care delivery. The collection can be used widely for wellness, relaxation, and background music in care settings. Pathways Singing Program is scientifically targeted for persons with different stages of dementia.

2. What is unique about Room 217 music?

Room 217 music has been designed with the both therapeutic and artistic production values. Music is performed at 60 beats per minute which entrains, or syncs up with resting heart rate. Phrases are stretched in order to pace with slower or labored breathing. The musical spectrum lies within a narrow ribbon, never startling or agitating the listener. Each album is 1 hour long with 2-4 colors. Music is performed live, not sampled, maximizing vibrational properties of artists. Some of the albums are instrumental only. Some of the albums have lyrics sung.

3. What kind of situations is Room 217 music appropriate for?

While Room 217 music was created to bring comfort to people who are at the end of life and their loved ones, Room 217 continues to expand its usefulness. Applications include: • dementia care, especially at mealtime and sundowning • therapeutic touch and massage therapy • sleep promotion, especially for children in daycare • self-care for allied health care professionals and family caregivers • contemplation and meditation • bereavement • supportive care • background music in funeral homes, surgery, recovery rooms, and chemotherapy • accompanying pilates and yoga instruction • library loan in public libraries, health care settings, or churches/synagogues • care baskets • in memoriam gifts

4. How do you know that the Room 217 Music Collection is appropriate music?

Music selection for the Room 217 Music Collection is based on surveys and focus groups. We have field-tested Room 217 music in a number of different settings and with people from diverse backgrounds.  While we recognize that Room 217 may not be for everyone, many find it comforting and relaxing. People connect to the pace, artistry and spiritual comfort Room 217 offers. Future collections that target different cultural groups - and which will be advised by focus groups from that culture - will help expand the reach of Room 217's music so that more end-users can enjoy melodies that are familiar and comforting to them.

5. Where is Room 217 being used?

In hospices, palliative care units, hospitals, cancer centres, long term care facilities, seniors residences, rehab centres, mental health facilities, schools, daycares, funeral homes, and private homes across Canada and into the United States. We have orders from the UK, Italy, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Egypt, France, Switzerland and Romania. We hope to see the Room 217 Music Collection supporting caregivers and their loved ones all over the world.

6. How do I offer music to someone who is sick or dying?

Gently and respectfully. If you are a professional caregiver, you may ask how music has played a role in a person or family’s life as part of the assessment. Decide which album may fit the person’s preferences and history best based on song selection, style, or on whether they prefer instrumental only. If you are a volunteer caregiver, you may connect with a person’s story and feel that the music may connect with that person. If you are a family caregiver, there may be strong connections with the music and your loved one. If you are a friend, you may wish to give Room 217 as a gift instead of flowers or a card.

Here are some ways Room 217 may be offered.

  • “here is something that may help you sleep”
  • “I find this music very calming and soothing.”
  • “this music may help distract you from the pain”
  • “this music may help you connect with your loved one”
  • “these songs bring back so many memories”

The main thing to remember is that there are no formulas. Listening to music may not be comfortable for whatever reason and should not be forced. The needs and desires of the care receiver come first.

7. Why do you see music as a complementary resource for caregivers?

While there is increasing scientific evidence and understanding about the efficacy of music medicine, it is still not regarded as a primary intervention. However, history shows us how music can be an effective therapeutic treatment. Alexander the Great was restored to sanity by the music of a lyre. Buddhist monks in the Himalayas have been singing healing chants for over 2,000 years. “Infirmary music” was an intimate expression of French monastic medicine in 11th century Cluny. The evidence suggests that music helps with pain and symptom management. In addition to reducing pain, music as relaxation and distraction has been used during chemotherapy to bring overall relief and to reduce nausea and vomiting and reduce anxiety. A terminal illness highlights every psychological dynamic in a person’s life. Music is used in psychotherapy as a means of access, review, expression. People may cope better with their situation and loss with music. Songwriting and improvisation are examples of musical interventions that may shift the locus of control. Music plays an integral role in the lives of teenagers and offers opportunities for improved coping skills and self-expression. In end of life care, there are many questions that arise. Popular and spiritual songs may express truths which help reinforce a person’s beliefs and help bring closure to unresolved or answers to questions. Caregivers can learn to integrate music into their regular care practice and complement other modalities of care, treatments or interventions.

8. Why does Room 217 music work so well in end of life care?

Music can both hold and fill space at end of life. In critical care settings, ambient noise can often be filled loud talking or machines while emotional space may be filled with anxiety, anger, sorrow, empathy, love. Room 217 music has been produced in order to easily and gently meet people in those spaces. 

9. Why is the music on Room 217 produced so slowly?

Room 217 music is meant to soothe, not to escalate. It tries to match what may be going on in the space where a person is not feeling well and can’t take a lot of aural stimulation. The slow tempo lessens agitation, stress and anxiety, and can bring a peaceful calm into rooms, situations and personal distress.

10. Is Room 217 only for spiritual people?

The core values of Room 217 music are hope, beauty and gentleness. The music has been meaningful to people of different faiths, or people with no formal religious background.  It is true that particularly when faced with the end of life, people are seeking meaning and ask deeper questions about life, purpose and destiny. Room 217 may provide comfort in times like this and the associations with the familiar music may also support personal meaning.

11. Where does the name Room 217 come from?

Room 217 is a room at the Uxbridge Cottage Hospital, a small rural hospital, in Uxbridge, Ontario, 1 hour northeast of Toronto, ON. It is the room where the founder, Bev Foster's dad David Simmonds, died in January 2002.

12. What is the difference between music care, music therapy and music medicine?

Music care is an approach all of us can use to integrate music into regular caregiving practice.  The Room 217 Foundation provides both musical and educational resources towards this end.

Music therapy is a diverse clinical treatment modality that is used with people of all ages and populations. Music therapy involves a relationship between the therapist and client, music making and a therapeutic process. Music therapists are trained both as musicians capable of playing a variety of instruments and also as therapists. Music therapy is goal driven and outcomes and results are evaluated on an ongoing basis. It requires intensive, specialized training. For more information, see www.musictherapy.ca .

Music medicine provides interdisciplinary research and strategies on the effects and the experiences of music within disciplines especially in healthcare. For example, music and neurological function, biomedical research in music, music and brain science. There are many organizations involved in music medicine. For more information, visit the International Association for Music and Medicine www.iammonline.com .