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Showcasing Musical Talents in Leitrim Project

The sound of singing and laughter has been heard ringing through one Leitrim day hospital as many of its elderly patients got to showcase their talents through the Music in Mind initiative.

Music in Mind is a collaboration between the National Concert Hall and Mental Health Ireland.

The Mental Health Service for Older People in Sligo/Leitrim is based in Liscarney House and is used by people over 65, many with dementia. The Occupational Therapist in Liscarney House Day Hospital was the centre co-ordinator for each of the Music in Mind projects. All participants were interested in pursuing this opportunity – either because of a previous interest in music or a wish to try something new. 

Over the last two years there have been four projects each lasting eight weeks,  explained Róisín Kearns, Occupational Therapist.

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“The end of each Music in Mind programme has been celebrated by a performance attended by family and friends. Each time that performance has been particularly moving for family to see their loved ones so engaged and showcasing their talents,” she said.

The aims of the project were to promote well being and social connection with others.  They were designed to allow for the experience of positive outcomes and support each individual’s recovery process – by using musical expression.  They provided an opportunity for participants to re connect with a past interest and potentially establish a new identity related to music. 

 “The last project in October 2019 concluded with a performance celebrating the opening of the new sensory garden in Liscarney House. The choir was accompanied by Musical Memories -  a group formed as a direct result of the interest in music stimulated by previous projects. The group is made up of service users, family and friends.  The formation of the group is strong evidence of co-production in action,” revealed Róisín.

Consistently, participants have provided powerful feedback on the impact the programme has had on their everyday lives, sense of self, and how it has built on their connections in the community. They have been empowered to reconnect with local musical communities. Some people have re-joined their local choir, some have taken on more responsibility in their amateur dramatic society and some have taken up learning new instruments. One person reflected on the value of peer support, meeting other people in later stages of recovery.

Other participants reported, “It showed me I had talent”; “I learned a lot about myself”; “It revived my interest in music”; “I formed new friendships”.

In November 2019, The National Concert Hall hosted a ‘Celebrate Together’ workshop where Music in Mind projects from around the country came together to share the music they had been creating and try out another type of music. Twelve participants from Liscarney House attended this event. For some, this was their first time to visit and perform in the National Concert Hall.

“On behalf of all the participants we would like to thank the National Concert Hall and Mental Health Ireland for developing this programme and affording us the opportunity to be a part of it,” added Róisín.