Combating social isolation
Working in the care homes and sheltered accommodation throughout Yeovil and beyond, The Phoenix Voices are bringing great and relevant music to those who might not usually have access to it. From those affected by social isolation to those living with mental ill-health the choir challenges this through musical participation and leadership, making a real impact in the lives of those around us.
Some choir members have, or have had experience of mental health difficulties themselves and have participated in an undergraduate study for Psychology of Music on 'Choral Singing as a Therapeutic Intervention' which demonstrated 19 positive effects, including enhancing mental health, coping strategies, confidence and friendships as well as combating loneliness and isolation for people of all ages.
Raising money for their community work, the choir seek to combat social isolation in the elderly and stigma and isolation faced by those living with mental ill-health through music, either in performance or recruitment.
Following consultations with a Senior Healthcare Worker at Wessex House, Somerton The Phoenix Voices have become very aware of just how much impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on residents of the care home. The loss of residents has reduced their companionship within the setting and on top of that they have been living within a very restricted environment to keep them safe. This has reduced further contact with one another and staff and the lack of visits and social interaction form family and friends has seriously affected the mental health and wellbeing of the older people living within the home adding to the pressure faced by one another and the staff working so hard to care for them and protect them. Loneliness has become more evident than normal due to the extreme isolation suffered. Added to that, the lack of physical touch from their closest families members when they need it most has further impacted the wellness of residents. It has been highlighted to us, that this is particularly so when supporting those with dementia who have been deeply impacted by the restrictions of the pandemic with limited understanding. We know that music provides great therapy for all and increases wellbeing, and we would love the opportunity to provide some light and a moment of fun and happiness to lift the spirits not only of the residents, but also the Key Workers working so hard in these difficult times, and to the families also.
With Covid restrictions beginning to ease, we hope to be able to return to performing in care homes in the near future. We are also hoping to begin a community project with Wessex Care Home, Somerton, where the choir would provide weekly choral sessions to a group of residents with dementia and significant physical, mental and emotional limitations as well as extreme loneliness and isolation. The sessions would be used to provide access to community choral singing to be used as therapeutic intervention to combat social isolation and mental ill-health exacerbated by the Covid crisis using a structured form of informal community music therapy and leading the residents into a goal: at the end of the 12 sessions, residents will be invited to join with us to take part in a concert, enabled by choir members and accompanied by a small band, which will be open to relatives to attend. This concert will be recorded; 20 DVD’s produced with one being given to Wessex House for the residents to hear and take part in again. The remaining DVDs, along with song sheets, will be distributed to care homes in and around the Yeovil area (within a 10-mile radius) to enable residents to benefit from the power of singing and by sharing with their key workers, carers, families and choir members who can encourage them to join in.
A backing track of the session would also be made independently virtually so that choir members can use this as an accompaniment to perform further small concerts in other Care Homes, within Somerset, for the entertainment and participation where possible, of the residents.
The hope is that through this project, we will be able to reach over 800 people in the local community.
SHERBORNE HOUSE CARE HOME
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“The Phoenix Voices and their unique sound make a significant impression with their music. Their performances contain a vocal maturity and contemporary creativity that exudes confidence and originality.”