Setting up a staff choir and singing programme

My name is Rebecca Buswell and I work as a Project Support Manager in the Strategic Planning and Business Development Team at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust. My pledge for Change Day 2014 was to start up a small singing group to visit the wards and spend time with patients. My job is very much desk based, and the people I work with on a day to day basis are those in corporate departments, and some lead clinicians. Therefore, I have no patient contact as part of my role, and this was something I wanted to change.

Myself and a colleague visited three wards in the late summer/early autumn to pilot the programme and to speak with ward staff to see how this could work. Feedback was really positive and we found that going to the wards at visiting time was particularly important, so that friends, carers and relatives could get involved as well.

I started to recruit singers from across the Trust in early September, and now have a choir of eight singers, all of whom are incredibly committed and talented individuals. The choir is currently made up of two healthcare assistants, a domestic, a librarian, a service manager, an office manager, an executive assistant and me. I am keen to recruit new members as at the moment we are all women.

In January, we will be launching our first official singing programme on our Stroke Rehabilitation ward. The benefits of singing are huge, both physically and emotionally, and a lot of our stroke patients have long stays in hospital whilst they have rehabilitation. Research has shown that stroke patients that have lost their speech are sometimes able to sing instead, as this is accessed from a different part of the brain. We are hoping to use some of the charitable funds we have secured to have external vocal tutors to visit at least once a month, and use their expertise to lead on this new exciting programme.

Recently, we have performed at the Chairman’s Christmas Dinner, and both of our hospital chapel’s Christmas Carol services. Patients have attended both concerts, and all of us have felt the emotion of the words of the songs we have been singing, particularly at this time of year.

I can’t wait to see where this goes. It has the potential to brighten up a lot of people’s experience of being in hospital, including my own.

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