Music and singing helps evoke memories



Older patients who are staying in hospital are enjoying music and singing sessions courtesy of the Welsh National Opera (WNO).

Patients staying on ward C7 at the University Hospital of Wales had weekly sessions from the Come and Sing project which ran for five weeks, receiving great feedback from patients, families and staff on the benefits of the sessions.

The Come and Sing project will now continue running on a weekly basis on Ward C7 until Easter, supported by Cardiff & Vale Health Charity under the Heath Boards Music To Our Ears programme.

WNO’s vocal animateur Kate Woolveridge and repetiteur Nicola Rose inspired patients, families and nursing staff to come and sing with us, with the pilot creating a joyful atmosphere and sharing relationships between staff, patients and families on the ward.

Patients on the ward are aged between 70 – 90 years old they not only enjoyed listening to solo items but also actively joined in with the music, vocally and physically. The sessions were run during afternoon visiting hours so that friends and family could get involved too and sessions were so well received that patient’s would do warm ups and practices during the morning of a session.

The aims of the project were to make staff and patients feel good when singing, to create a sense of a musical community on the ward, to connect to people, to encourage communication, to spark meaningful interactions and to elicit emotions and memories. As a result of the sessions staff and family members noticed that patients were getting up more, interacting more with others, had an improved general sense of wellbeing and were happier.


The positive impact that the first five weeks of the WNO’s Come and Sing project has created has proven what a worthwhile and much needed regular activity this is for patients, relatives and staff members alike.

Upon reflection on the initial project, Kate commented: “Not only have the 30 minutes of music in each ward had a positive impact on patients but also on visiting friends and relatives as well as staff. Music and engagement makes a change that is impossible to quantify and the regularity gives a focus to the week.”

Feedback from family member: “My Father has been on C7 for over 4 months so I am a regular visitor and have got to know some of the other patients that have been there for some time.  My father has dementia and struggles with remembering short term, however; over the time that Kate and Nicky were visiting the ward, he would remember they had been there and they would be back the following Friday, this was the main conversation for some days after their visit. I have seen a huge difference on the whole ward after Kate has been there, it’s full of great stimulated happy energy and chitter chatter. I have also overheard the staff talking about how great it is for the patients when the opera singer visits.”

Liz Vaughan, Ward Sister on C7 said: “I was really pleased with how the trial went and heard lots of informal feedback and positive comments on the ward by patients, staff and visitors. I was only able to be present on the ward for two of the sessions but they were fantastic, it was so lovely to see the patients enjoying the music and engaging with Kate. She was brilliant with the patients and managed to get a little something out of everyone. I’m looking forward to the session continuing in the coming weeks.”