Hastings Court Care Home has started its own choir after seeing the benefits singing together has brought to residents
The ‘Happy Harmonies’ choir at Hastings Court Care Home, East Sussex, started several months ago after staff saw the positive impact and wonderful effect group sing-a-longs had on residents and how it helped them to build relationships.
Lifestyles Manager, Kimberley Mann, came up with the idea several months ago and staff have been monitoring the impact it’s had on residents since. The group are now ready to perform at Care Home Open Day on 28th June, when Hastings Court will open its doors for their ‘Beside the Seaside’ party.
Kimberley said: “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 months 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 at Hastings Court meet every Saturday morning and family members are encouraged to join in. Lifestyles Assistant and music graduate, Chloe Woods, leads the choir, starting each session with vocal and facial warm-ups which are particularly beneficial to those with speech and language difficulties.
The benefits of singing in a choir have recently been explored in a BBC documentary, ‘Our Dementia Choir’, which looked at the extent of the power of music for those with the condition.
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.”
Hazel Donnes is 92. Her daughter, Jess, also attends the choir with her mum.
“The staff told me Mum loves singing ‘Jerusalem’ and I was so touched by that because she had it at her wedding,” said Jess. “I love the fact that Mum remembers and it makes her so happy to sing it.”
Hastings Court also holds drumming workshops that give people who are non-verbal the chance to express themselves and make music in a group. Staff use music tailored to individuals to help them feel relaxed enough to eat and enjoy mealtimes.
“Music has the power to connect with people in a way that speech doesn’t,” said Chloe. “Understanding what people enjoy can transform their day-to-day lives.”
The choir are currently practicing summer-themed favourites such as ‘I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside’ and ‘Summer Holiday’ for their upcoming performance at the home’s open day on Friday 28th June.