As part of my finishing process, today I presented a reflection of the ‘Myriad of Music’ project to a varied group of Strathcarron staff members. Not only was this a tidy way to conclude my placement – presenting a brief overview of what had been achieved - but it also provided an ideal opportunity to gather more feedback from a cross-section of the Hospice team, and helped me to definitively answer the above question!
In summarising what the project’s achieved, I explained that I’d fulfilled my commitment to: provide the hospice with enough MP3 players to allow for patients to have their own music players at their bedsides for the duration of their stay in the hospice; introduce and implement the idea of helping patients choose personal playlists to load onto their music players; show that talking to patients about music that’s meaningful to them can be a valuable therapeutic tool; help facilitate a method for patient’s to hear their own music ‘piped’ into the newly refurbished bathrooms; build up a digital music library that’s accessible to patients; introduce more in the way of live music to the hospice; raise awareness and break down barriers by bringing members of the community in to perform for patients; and raise money through a fundraising live music night. I also showed a couple of videos that I've made during my placement. So, in conclusion, I think I can safely say that the project has been a success. I’m proud to have made a difference.
However, I also pointed out that I hadn’t achieved everything I set out to. I didn’t manage to facilitate a system whereby performances could be broadcast onto the ward televisions (which would’ve incorporated a ‘wildlife’ camera, bringing the outside in) and I haven’t left things set up in such a way that an organised group of volunteers can take over the mantle. Oh dear, I guess that means I’ll just have to stay on, as a volunteer, and help keep things ticking over......
I’m actually hoping, with the hospice’s support and backing, to source more funding so that I can continue to develop and build on everything I’ve introduced over this past four months. And that will include involving more of the hospice’s fantastic volunteers and making basic music therapy something that becomes a standard, integrated part of the care package at Strathcarron. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that Complementary Therapy was an ‘extra’ service provided only by volunteers and it’s now facilitated by a mixture of employed and voluntary therapists. My hope is to see the same sort of progression for basic music therapy at the hospice – and my intention is now to focus on combining my counselling training with the development of this type of very basic – but very effective - therapy. In the meantime, I’ll be proud to be swapping badges again and look forward to being part of the incredible team of volunteers at Strathcarron.
Sourcing more funding won’t be easy, but I’ve got to keep remembering that when I applied to the Vodafone Foundation, I only had an idea. Just a simple idea. And I had no evidence to show that it would work. That it would make a difference. I’m in the much stronger position now of having oodles of evidence that it does work, and that it does make a difference. Taking on board how well the patients have responded, along with the extremely positive comments and feedback I received from staff today (and throughout my placement), I can make funding applications armed with evidence that using music at its simplest level as a basic therapeutic tool really does work - and really does make a difference to the lives of people with life limiting illness. I’m under no illusion that it’ll be easy to source funds, but I’ll be giving it my best shot.
I would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to everyone who has contributed to making this project such a successful one: so many of my lovely friends for all of your support; Annie and Jane for creating the Heart of Scotland Choir and reminding me how powerful music can be; the incredible bunch of school children, local musicians and singers who gave up their time to perform for patients so willingly; the amazing staff at Strathcarron for making me feel so welcome - and embracing both me and the project with such enthusiasm; my wonderful family for their support - and patience – while things like housework, my 'real' job in our own wee business, remembering to pick up my son from school, buying milk and being able to talk about anything other than the project were practically abandoned during the past 4 months. Lastly, but most especially, I'd like to thank the Vodafone Foundation, from the bottom of my heart, for giving me this fantastic opportunity in the first place.
So, that’s it, my placement’s over – but the project’s not. After all, there’s so much more of a difference still to make....