Live Music Now Wales has recently started a residency on the renal dialysis ward at Morriston Hospital, Swansea. The regular sessions are held once a month, featuring a variety of duos and soloists from the scheme in Wales, covering a range of musical genres. Musicians Tom Smith (tenor) and Ella O’Neill (pianist) started the residency in May, delighting the patients with a mix of classical and traditional songs.
The project involves renal patients who have come in for dialysis, as well as those on the unit’s Cardigan Ward, and has been launched after a successful pilot was delivered earlier in the year in partnership between ABMU Healthboard Arts In Health Officer, Prue Thimbleby and Live Music Now Wales. Treatment for patients can take a full day, and side effects include extreme fatigue, making activity during sessions extremely difficult, with TV or Radio generally the only entertainment available.
“It is a tiring but rewarding environment in which to perform” said tenor, Tom Smith, “as due to the size of the space we are regularly moving to new areas on the ward to perform for as many groups as possible. The patients are mostly unable to move during treatment, but seemed to enjoy singing or mouthing the words to songs or tapping fingers to the music. One patient told us that the music lowered their blood pressure, and another said she thought it was so beautiful she was going to dissolve! It’s great to see how many benefits performing live for them can have.”
The residency has been funded by charitable benefit funds for renal patients, after senior staff saw how beneficial the pilot sessions had been to the well being of both patients and other staff. One patient commented, “I find the music calms me down and lifts my spirits. It is very relaxing. The variety is lovely and it breaks up the time here, it doesn’t seem so long when the musicians are playing.”
Morriston Hospital’s lead renal services nurse Liz Baker said, "The patients on dialysis enjoy it. It helps pass the time, but also music can bring out the best in people. It makes them forget they are on dialysis. Some of them can get lost in the music and become completely relaxed. It’s something a bit different and brightens up their day. The staff enjoy it too, because they see the patients in a different light. They see patients enjoying themselves, which you don’t usually see when they come in for dialysis. It’s win-win as far as we are concerned.”
The sessions will run monthly until the end of the year, and hopefully continue beyond. Other new ensembles on the LMN Wales scheme due to take part include mezzo soprano and pianist, Olivia Gomez and Ben Pinnow, singer/songwriter John Nicholas, Israeli harpist Ada Ragimov, and violin and viola ensemble Alma Duo.