Music use expanded in rec, palliative care at Salvation Army Eventide Home

by Various Writers

This is the first in a series of articles that examine the impact Music Care Training has in care settings and contexts. Watch for monthly stories from Level 3 graduates. This update from an October 2017 blog post was submitted by Major Renee Clarke (director of spiritual care), Aurika Bennett (recreation manager) and Wendy Kidd (recreation therapist). They are Level 3 graduates of Room 217’s Music Care Training, at work at Salvation Army Eventide Home in Niagara Falls, ON.

Since the completion of the course and the implementation of the music care initiative within our facility, we continue to provide music on a very personal level. We have created several different music care programs to target the various needs and abilities of our residents.

Every Friday afternoon, Wendy offers the Music Care Italian Club. She intentionally reaches out to our Italian residents, and has their playlists ready to go. The residents’ families have joined in on this program and will often attend with their loved one. The family members have such a great time that they leave feeling like that had a little piece of Italy. It has been become a journey for Wendy personally also, as the residents have taken it upon themselves to teach Wendy a little Italian. So for the past six months, at the end of each program, the residents teach Wendy one Italian word, and Wendy has to repeat the learned words weekly to them. At the close of the program, Wendy ends by saying “tutti fuori”, which translates to, “everybody out”.  Wendy has built such an intimate relationship with these residents that they anticipate the program weekly and wait for the “tutti fuori” before anyone leaves.  

The other program offered weekly on Friday afternoon, is Music Care Mobile. Wendy’s role is to take the residents’ personal playlists and go floor to floor and room to room, to the residents who are unable to attend the program physically for whatever reason. While Wendy is mobile with music care, something interesting happens. Other residents will hear what is going on and join in or inquire about what is going on. She brings the music to them.

Wednesday, Wendy offers Music Care Men’s Group. It is a guy thing, no ladies allowed; men can be men and listen to their music. The playlist consists of car themes, old country, truck driving songs, etc. Wendy is very pleasantly surprised at how engaging the men can be and actually sing along to many of the songs being shared. This leads to memories being shared very openly and the fellas, they become vulnerable and deeply touched.

Other music care programs offered weekly are Music Care 1-1, 1-1-2 (a family member can join their loved in Rm 217, or bring one of their peers, friends from the facility), music care small group targets our cognitive and behavioural residents (the Room 217 Pathways singing program is the tool utilized in this program). Our final program is the music care large group, which is open to all residents of all abilities, providing them the opportunity to be together, and to share music, memories, song, conversation and laughter.

Major Renee continues to provide individual playlists for our residents at their end of life. During end of life, silence can be very “loud” as families and friends journey with their loved one to the end. By using music from the residents’ personal playlists, it breaks the silence and assists with the journey. Once the journey of life is ended, Major has implemented a code purple for the resident and family leaving the facility for the last time. Staff, residents and guests will gather as an honor guard at the front entrance and the resident is escorted out, again to their personal music.

In closing, we feel we have definitely enhanced the quality of life for our residents, family and staff through this course. We continue to learn and grow in ways to reach our residents on a personal level. If music is used not just as entertainment, a great difference can be experienced and shared.