by Author VickyC

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Sharing Practice: Alder Hey Children's Hospital and Royal Manchester Children's Hospital

Liverpool and Manchester are home to two of the largest and busiest children’s hospitals in Europe: Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool and Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. Both are currently running Youth Music funded music in health programmes: Alder Hey’s is delivered by their Arts for Health service in partnership with Live Music Now North West, and Manchester’s is delivered by Lime Music for Health.

Alder Hey have been delivering Youth Music funded projects since 2015, whilst Lime Music for Health have over ten years of Youth Music funded projects under their belt. Both Alder Hey and Lime Music for Health have seen the funding of these programmes make a positive and profound difference to the lives and wellbeing of patients, whilst simultaneously supporting the professional development of musicians.

As Arts Coordinator of Alder Hey, I had been aware of Lime Music for Health’s award winning programme for several years and was keen to learn more and share practice with them. Through discussions with Kate Catling, Project Manager and Ros Hawley, Specialist Lead Musician, we decided to build an element of informal sharing practice with each other into our respective Youth Music programmes

We planned two sharing days between the two hospitals; the first one took place at the end of January 2020 and was hosted by Lime Music for Health at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. Three musicians from Alder Hey and three musicians from Lime Music for Health took part. The Alder Hey musicians, Ben, Elfair and Pip were able to observe the Lime Music for Health musicians, Polly and Chloe, working in their usual pairing, to undertake a delivery session in the busy outpatients waiting area. For the Alder Hey musicians, this was a completely new area of the hospital in which to deliver music, having largely delivered on in-patient wards with long term patients.

“It was new to me to see musicians working with families in an outpatients waiting area; little bursts of ‘music making’ with different patients, whom everyone in the area could hear and enjoy, a complete contrast to giving a performance in a waiting area. We were left with food for thought about how we can always work on improving our musical sessions and keep them interesting for ourselves.” Elfair, Alder Hey musician."

This was followed up by a discussion session, where all of the musicians came together to discuss their own practice and how this differed to each other. Topics for discussion included delivering as a pair and as a solo musician, involvement of the wider family, working with patients in isolation, evaluation and monitoring, the use of new technology in music making, reflecting as a musician and the challenges of working in a hospital environment.

The sharing session was felt to be a great success by all participating musicians. Musicians commented that it had given them a range of new ideas and approaches which they could add to their own toolkit, as well as opening their eyes to delivery in areas away from the hospital wards.

“I found the day really interesting, it was so great to be able to see Polly & Chloe in action, and although their setting was totally different to ours, it gave me ideas and inspiration for our area of the hospital. It was also so useful for us to compare ideas and strategies for evaluation and reflection and discuss activities and ideas all together.” Pip, Alder Hey musician

“Observing the musicians at Manchester Children's Hospital was really useful and inspiring. As a music practitioner, everyone has their own style of delivery, and observing others is a great way to reflect on one's own practice and add ideas to it. This can be as simple as ideas for repertoire and approaches on making music with a young person but its also a great opportunity to share musical activities that can work for a range of ages, abilities and stylistic preferences.” Ben, Alder Hey musician

It was really beneficial to make time to come together to share ideas, approaches and experiences and see how other organisations deliver their music in health programmes; I would highly recommend this approach to informally sharing practice and it’s worth building this into the project budget at the start to enable this to happen. We are now looking forward to hosting Lime Music for Health’s musicians at Alder Hey later on in the year.

Vicky Charnock

Arts Coordinator

Alder Hey Children’s Hospital