Christmas Caroling on the Stroke Ward

My older daughter Hannah and I, were at the hospital just before Christmas and I had suggested popping into the stroke ward to say hello to the staff. Just over 4 years ago, I made a remarkable recovery from a stroke which paralysed the whole right side of my body and left me unable to walk.

Rita the dietician was there and it was great to tell her all my news about the talks I have been giving about my recovery story, especially the one I gave at The University of Oxford about my patient experience. The latter was part of my vision to be able to give back my gift of recovery.

The Healing Power of Music

I happened to mention to Rita that Hannah was very talented in singing and dancing. Rita then made the lovely suggestion that she could come in on Christmas Eve and sing to the patients. I loved the idea as I said that music has a great healing quality and it makes people feel so much better, especially if they feel really low. In fact, the well known pop star Jesse J always talks about how driven she is with her music, in order to help heal people.

We organised this through PALS, which coordinates the volunteers to go into the hospital. Hannah decided that she was going to take her two friends Jess and Morgan both of whom are also very talented. They all took this very seriously and on the Sunday afternoon before Christmas eve they practised all the carols they were going to sing. Jess plays the guitar really well so they had the music side organised too.

Before we went up to the ward, we quickly got a drink from the coffee shop. Other people in the queue saw Jess with the guitar and we told them they were going to sing to the patients in the stroke ward, which they thought was really lovely. One of ladies in the queue, suggested the girls went up to the maternity ward when they were done. She said it would really cheer them up!

Music, Community, Compassion, Gratitude and Dancing on the Stroke Ward

When we arrived at the stroke ward, the staff were so pleased and excited to see us as they knew it would be such a treat for the patients. I introduced the girls by saying that I was an ex-patient and thought it would be great for them to have some carols on Christmas eve. They sang about three songs per bay and the patients really loved it! Where there were staff nearby or present they would sing along and the energy in the ward overall was brilliant. At one point two of the staff started to dance! In some cases there were relatives visiting and they were so appreciative of the girls singing.

For the girls themselves, it was a great experience. Like myself, it made them realise how fortunate they were to have good health! Also how wonderful it was to give a contribution to some very poorly patients. This was particularly evident when they went into the side rooms. These rooms had patients who had had very severe strokes, one could not see properly and the girls sang with such striking compassion. This patient was so moved by their singing, he really came out of himself and started to sing along. It was so moving I had to fight back the tears. One of the nurses had to leave the room as she started to cry. Another patient in one of the other side rooms was drifting in and out of consciousness whilst they sang. Particularly in the side rooms there was a magical field produced by the girls’s singing and their compassion for the patients, which seemed to really touch the patients and make them feel better in some way.

We all left on a huge high, as it was a truly amazing experience to bring such joy into a ward, not only for the patients but also very much for the staff themselves. Rita who had organised it was so delighted and when we left she had one of  her lovely smiles on her face!