At Dementia Network we’ve written regularly about the benefits of music for those living with all forms of dementia. From calming a disorientated or agitated sufferer to helping retrieve long-lost memories, music really can reach the parts of the brain that other therapies can’t.

We were really pleased, then, to learn about the organisation Music in Hospitals & Care (MiHC), a charity that has been providing live music sessions in healthcare settings since 1948. Their sessions are designed to humanise clinical settings, reach and connect people, encourage communication and meaningful interactions and evoke emotions and memories when it matters most.

The charity has a wide reach, offering sessions across England, Scotland and Wales, with more than 680 professional musicians taking part, many funded through grants (meaning there is no cost to the healthcare setting). Although Covid has obviously curtailed their sessions, in 2019/20 they managed to bring live music to almost 90,000 people in care. Even with the pandemic they provided regular livestreamed events to help connect and entertain the most vulnerable, who by their very nature were often shielding and unable to go out and take part in their usual activities.

MiCH also has a series of innovative projects for specialist areas including Lullaby Hour, which brings gentle music to poorly children including in neonatal units where musicians play for unwell or premature babies and their parents.

Margaret Ferguson, a singer who has been performing with MiHC since 1998, wrote on their website about her love of performing for the charity. ‘It’s wonderful to belong to a charity which reaches out to the seldom reached. Many won’t have the ability to go to concerts and it’s wonderful we can interrupt peoples’ hurts and pain with music. Also, to spend time talking to them and listening to their many different stories.’ She recounted a special moment with a stroke patient who had not spoken for several years. ‘I sang “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”, which turned out to be the song his mother sang to him when he was young, and he sang along with me. His wife, family members and the staff were in tears.’

The charity depends on the generosity of charitable trusts & foundations, businesses, local authorities, schools, clubs and groups, individual donors, anonymous donors, volunteers and the Friends of Music in Hospitals & Care. If you’re interested in seeing more of what they do, why not tune in to one of their Facebook or YouTube live sessions – you can find the details here.

Find out more about the work of MiHC here.