We recently began working in Critical Care wards at Nottingham University Hospitals, a completely new area for us, and one in which very few musicians are working. Over the first few sessions we’ve had some wonderful feedback, a friendly welcome and great response from the staff, and some memorable interactions, such as this one with a young woman, currently unable to speak due to a tracheostomy.
She had heard us in another part of the ward, and as James approached her she mimed playing a guitar. James greeted her and began playing and singing I Wanna Be Like You. She immediately began moving her shoulders to the music and James soon offered her a shaker for the rest of the song, which we could hear another patient behind curtains joining in with. James then brought the instrument box closer, and she chose the glockenspiel, the two of them then having a jam together which developed into The Lion Sleeps Tonight. Two doctors came to look at her charts and looked very pleased to see their patient enjoying herself. Other staff were also observing and smiling at the engagement, and a neighbouring patient was smiling in his sleep.
Next out were the Wah-Wah tubes, which can be very hypnotic and captivating, and there was a musical conversation between the two of them, while I played a simple and familiar chord progression. This became a song, and then another, and another, without interruption, while their conversation continued, the patient being fully absorbed in the activity. When it ended, she stood up and hugged us both, and wrote “it made me feel very relaxed and happy”.