Donation of Pianos to the University Hospitals Bristol & Weston NHS Foundation Trust – Arts and Cultural Programme
The University Hospitals Bristol and Weston (UHBW) NHS Foundation Trust Arts and Culture Programme was founded in 2018.
The programme is led by Arts Programme Director, Dr Anna Farthing, and relies on charitable donations, partnerships and collaborations to improve the aesthetic environment and provide creative activities to support the health and well-being of staff, students, carers and patients.
Donation of 10 pianos
In November 2019, The Piano Shop, Bath kindly donated ten pianos to UHBW Trust’s Arts and Culture programme. There is now a piano in each building. This major installation of musical infrastructure enabled us to programme an ‘Audio Advent Calendar’ throughout December 2019 during which local musicians gifted their time and their talents to offer relaxing, uplifting live music to patients and staff during the difficult period of ‘winter pressures’ which typically sees hospitals straining to match increased demand from people needing care. As was hoped, this normalised live music making in the hospitals, in the same way that Luke Jerram’s ‘Play Me I’m Yours’ artwork normalised street piano playing all over the world.
At that time, Robert Wooley, chief executive, said “Research published by the World Health Organisation shows unequivocally that live music can help improve health and wellbeing, including the management and treatment of illness, and that the soundscape has a bearing on how people feel about their time in hospital. I am therefore delighted that this new collaboration has delivered this gift of pianos to our hospitals and I hope that it sows the seeds for future partnerships with cultural organisations and individuals who can help us improve the aesthetic environment of our buildings.”
Currently, owing to COVID 19 there are many infection control restrictions that mean patients are unable to receive visits from friends and family and we are unable to have visiting volunteer befrienders. This has considerably increased the need to provide additional engagement and distraction, to prevent isolation and loneliness, alleviate anxiety and prevent depression. Staff have found creative and musical activities to be a very helpful in this regard. Some have begun giving ‘corridor concerts’, others have been singing lullabies to patients with dementia as part of calming during the difficult ‘sundowning’ period.
Doctor Vani Mahadevan, who works with patients in Intensive Care in the Bristol Heart Institute and who plays the piano in the BHI atrium recently said, “The piano is the best de-stressor. I play three or four times a week before I go home. It has significantly improved the quality of life here, especially in the current situation. Having the piano makes everyone happier.”
Pianos in the BRI and BRHC are also played by ambulance staff on short breaks and by staff from non-clinical roles. The sharing of live music making, even for a few minutes, has enabled individuals to show a different side of themselves and has been shown to improve a sense of unity among different teams of colleagues at this extremely challenging time.
In South Bristol Community Hospital, the piano is so popular among the many long stay patients that it has been moved from the atrium to the Day Room, where older patients, those with dementia, and those recovering from Stroke frequently play to entertain themselves and each other. Staff have said this activity is extremely valuable for supporting cognitive and physical recovery. (They would now like two additional pianos in the other day room and the atrium when available!)
Donating and fundraising: Above and Beyond is the official UHBW Hospitals Charity and is able to receive and allocate funds on behalf of the hospital’s arts programme. aboveandbeyond
Above and Beyond supported the development of the Arts and Culture Programme by funding the Arts Programme Director post for the first 18 months. Following the acceptance of the Arts and Culture Strategy, the posts of Arts Programme Director and Arts Programme Manager are now funded as part of ‘core business’ by the Trust.
The donation from The Piano Shop Bath has enabled us to develop a much needed music strand of the Arts and Culture Programme at this challenging time. We would use it to develop a programme of work that can respond to identified patient needs and staff recommendations and that can also comply with current infection control measures.
We are currently not able to run our staff choir, or have community acapella groups as singing is regarded as particularly high risk for COVID 19 transmission. Therefore, the programme might include hiring emerging professional musicians and training them in appropriate infection control measures, supporting existing hospital staff musicians with additional resources, developing an online platform to share live performances remotely, developing playlists for changing the atmosphere and environment, or providing cleanable musical instruments to patients who would like to play to aid their recovery. The programme can also be developed in collaboration with staff, patient representatives and the donors to ensure visible acknowledgement of their generosity.
University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust.
University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust comprises 13,000 staff offering over 100 different clinical services over 10 sites with approximately 1000 beds, caring for a core population of more than 500,000 people from across the South West.
The Trust provides services throughout the life course, from neonatal to care of the elderly. As a University Hospitals Trust, UHBW is also seen as a beacon for outstanding education, research and innovation.
Sites include: Bristol Royal Infirmary, Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, Bristol Heart Institute, Bristol Dental Hospital, Bristol Eye Hospital, St Michael’s Hospital, Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre, South Bristol Community Hospital, Weston General Hospital, and Central Clinic.