Inspirational choir benefits elderly

A local care home has been inspired to start its own choir after seeing the benefits of singing together brought to residents, particularly those with dementia.

Oh I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside! SUS-190606-125815001
Oh I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside! SUS-190606-125815001

‘Happy Harmonies’ was established at Hastings Court, The Ridge after staff realised that group sing-a-longs had a profound, positive effect on people’s mood and helped build relationships.

Lifestyles manager, Kimberley Mann, came up with the idea several months ago and she says staff have been monitoring the impact it has had on residents. “The group are now ready to perform on Care Home Open Day later this month,” she said.

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“Music is a huge part of the entertainment we offer here and residents enjoy listening to the many singers who come in to see us.

“But when we gave people the opportunity to sing themselves, and sing together, it brought residents out of their rooms who might not otherwise join in with an activity.

“Over the weeks that we’ve been running the choir, we’ve seen the songs bring back happy memories of singing in choirs at church or school, and that prompts reminiscence which helps to give people a sense of security and comfort.

“For those of our residents with dementia, it has a great effect on their mood; they are less anxious and it inspires conversation with each other, their families and the staff.”

The choir meet every Saturday morning and family members are encouraged to join in.

Lifestyles assistant and music graduate, Chloe Woods, leads the choir, She starts each session with vocal and facial warm-ups which she says are particularly beneficial to those with speech and language difficulties, adding: “Music has the power to connect with people in a way that speech doesn’t.

“Understanding what people enjoy can transform their day-to-day lives.”

Audrey Cowards, 80, comes to Happy Harmonies every week where she enjoys spending time with her close friends Jean and Hazel. Audrey’s daughter, Lesley Cordier said: “The staff call them the Golden Girls and they’re always the first ones down for choir practice!

“We always had the radio on at home when I was young and we would sing along together. “It’s lovely that, despite her dementia we can still have that connection because of the choir.

“She loves it; the singing makes her happy and she stays in that good mood for ages afterwards.”

The choir are currently practicing summer-themed favourites such as ‘I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside’ and ‘Summer Holiday’ for their up-coming performance at the home’s open day to be held on Friday, June 28, 2-5pm.

All are invited to the event which will have a 1950’s theme.