Guildhall students and dementia patientsPatients at the Royal Free Hospital have praised a programme which sees some of the world’s most promising young musicians hold interactive music sessions on elderly care wards. 

Music students from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama have been visiting two of the hospital’s older people’s wards each week, and giving all patients the chance to request their favourite song and even sing and play along.

The programme was organised by Laura Leadsford, director of therapy services, and is jointly funded by the Royal Free Charity and the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers.

Guildhall students and dementia patients

Danielle Wilde, dementia specialist occupational therapist, said the musical sessions had improved the overall mood on the wards and had been particularly beneficial to patients with dementia, who make up around half of all elderly patients.

She said: “We were having a lot of behavioural issues on the ward, and a lot of people were getting very bored and frustrated because there wasn’t enough to do.

“There is a real issue with dementia patients becoming disengaged. But when the musicians come we get most of the patients out of bed; they get up and do a bit of dancing and singing.

“It’s also about getting the staff on the ward together and having fun together. It has really improved the general mood.”

Guildhall students and dementia patientsWard 8 West patient Edna Clare Ireland, 99, from Highgate said: “I thought it was lovely. They should keep it up. I thought it was absolutely great. They gave pleasure to everybody in this room.”

Rhia Parker, Guildhall project co-ordinator, said she and her fellow students also got a lot out of the sessions.

She said: “It’s so enriching. We get as much or probably more out of it than the patients. There is so much positivity, not just from the patients but from the staff and the patients’ families.

“It’s a real privilege to hear someone tell you about how a song reminds them of when they were younger, or what those songs bring up.”


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About the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

The Royal Free began as a pioneering organisation and continues to play a leading role in the care of patients. Our mission is to provide world class expertise and local care. In the 21st century, the Royal Free London continues to lead improvements in healthcare.

The Royal Free London attracts patients from across the country and beyond to its specialist services in liver, kidney and bone marrow transplantation, haemophilia, renal, HIV, infectious diseases, plastic surgery, immunology, vascular surgery, cardiology, amyloidosis and scleroderma and we are a member of the academic health science partnership UCLPartners.

In July 2014 Barnet Hospital and Chase Farm Hospital became part of the Royal Free London.