Musician in Residence Frankie Simpkins works 2 days a week visiting 5 OPU’s wards and offering visits to other patients all around the hospital, delivering musical interactions and performances with patients and staff, using voice and ukulele. Frankie is very experienced working in a hospital setting, and is sensitive to performing in a busy ward environment. She ensures to work around medical staff carrying out their tasks, whilst creating a calm and uplifted atmosphere for them to work in.
Frankie works in a very patient-led way, when entering a bay she introduces herself to all patients and visitors and explains that she is a musician working at the hospital and asks if they would like to hear some music. These initial introductions are important for Frankie to be able to assess the atmosphere on the bay and speak to the patients, this will then inform her repertoire choices later on. Frankie believes it is important to give patients the option of music and not to force it on them. Patients do not have much freedom of choice when in hospital, and so she strongly believes that elements that they can have control of such as a visiting musician are given as an option and their choices are then respected. Depending on the bay environment, Frankie will adapt and move between performing songs for the whole bay, and also chatting with patients who want to talk, sometimes facilitating a conversation between 2 patients who are near each other.
Frankie chooses songs that complement and enhance the ward atmosphere, it may be busy and fraught and so she would choose slow soothing songs to promote a calmer atmosphere or if the ward is low and down she will sing uplifting songs to lift the mood. She will also take requests and choose songs that are relevant to any conversations she may have had.
AATH works closely with the hospitals Dementia Strategy Group and Dementia coordinators to ensure the programme reaches and benefits the many patients at the hospital with Dementia. Alzheimer’s society statistics say that 1 in 4 beds in a general hospital are filled with someone with Dementia, and we know that patients with dementia have longer stays in hospital than those with the same medical condition that don’t have dementia. Participation in activities and positive interaction can reduce length of stay as well as improve wellbeing and reduce agitation and anxiety.
Having written her university dissertation on Music and Alzheimer’s disease and through her work with Alzheimer’s Support in Wiltshire, Frankie has knowledge of the positive effects music can have on those with Dementia and sees these outcomes on a daily basis. Whilst singing familiar songs to patients she encourages engagement through singing and clapping, and the songs often evoke memories in patients which lead to further conversations that would not have otherwise been had. The music promotes a calm atmosphere and can be seen to improve staff/patient relationships by giving something mutual for both to enjoy together.
Although our Musician in Residence is based on the OPUS, we recognise that there are patients all over the hospital who would enjoy and benefit from some musical interactions. Whether it is to sit and chat about music, hear a specific song or just have a little musical interlude to the day, we welcome all referrals and requests for visits from across the hospital.
A lot of our referrals currently come from the Palliative Care Team and the learning disabilities liaison nurse and we enjoy supporting their patients with performances from Frankie our Musician in Residence and sometimes from visiting musicians as well.
If you would like to request our Musician in Residence to come and visit you or your patient please call 01225 824987