Soundbite at the Royal United Hospital Bath


Soundbite RUH Supporting the core values of the Royal United Hospital (RUH) Bath NHS Trust, with an innovative arts programme, Art at the Heart of the RUH aims to enhance the hospital environment and experience with measurable benefits to patients, staff and visitors. Committed to excellence and innovation we provide creative opportunities for the whole community through partnerships, participation and collaboration.

Under the Art at the Heart umbrella, Soundbite brings a varied programme of live music and creative activities to patients, staff and visitors at the RUH. Through our Soundbite programme we aim to increase access to musical provision across the RUH community, improve the well-being of patients, staff and visitors at the RUH, and to provide students and emerging musicians the opportunity to gain experience of music facilitation and performance in a health care setting.

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Soundbite has four objectives:

  1. To provide live music performances for patients, staff and visitors at the RUH;
  2. To provide music workshops and performances for older patients, specifically those with dementia;
  3. To work in collaboration with the Occupational Therapy team to deliver reminiscence sessions for patients with dementia;
  4. To provide placements and an internship programme for students and young musicians.

Lunchtime Performances

Over the last year we have had 20 performances by over 80 musicians including the RUH choir. We have had 16 performances from young musicians from Live Music Now (LMN) generously funded by the Joyce Fletcher Charitable Trust. We have also had 2 concerts provided by Music in Hospitals (MiH) which has enabled us to bring music to the oncology waiting areas.

The performances took place in the atrium area of the hospital over the busy lunchtime period, and the musicians then performed to patients on the older peoples units or waiting areas. The music has reached around 12,600 people in the atrium, and over 500 patients and visitors on wards and waiting areas. Through the use of feedback forms we have seen that the majority of people to have listened to the music in the atrium were visitors and the majority of responses to the music were positive .

Live Music Now

The music has reached around 12,600 people in the atrium, and over 500 patients and visitors on wards and waiting areas.

Most people that attended the performances provided positive feedback and that the general age of the people in attendance was between 65-74. For the programme in 2013 we need to better advertise the music performances through the use of social media, displaying posters around the hospital, and informing volunteer guides of the upcoming performances. We also need to reach younger groups of patients, visitors and staff and gather feedback on their opinion of the music performances.

Workshops on the Older Peoples Units (OPUs)

Over the last year we have provided over 130 workshops for older patients on Combe, Midford, Pulteney, Helena and Forrester Brown, reaching over 1,500 patients.

The majority of the sessions have taken place on the ward bays, with a small number of sessions taking place in the communal day room area on the wards, allowing for group participation. It was not always possible to hold the sessions in the communal area due to patients being bedridden or unable to move into the day room.

The workshop lasted 45 minutes to an hour. Rosie sang well-known songs with the pa- tients and performed popular pieces on her clarinet. This led to a reminiscence discussion about the memories that the music brought back for the patients, and how it made them feel. The workshops were clearly enjoyed by patients, staff and visitors.

We have observed that music can be particularly beneficial for patients with dementia as it can improve memory and communication and reduce aggression and wandering. Music can be used as a tool to improve social interaction and can improve relationships between patients and staff. Music affects everyone in different ways and it has been interesting to hear of the memories that the music has brought back for patients. Patients welcomed the interaction of having a musician on the ward and they appeared to enjoy talking with Rosie about their different musical tastes. Many asked Rosie to play requests.

We have noticed that the music has prompted patients to talk to one another, which is something that might not have happened had the music not taken place. According to staff this form of social interaction carried on long after Rosie had left the ward.

The workshops will continue in 2013, and through her MA Rosie will carry out a research project exploring the effects of live music for patients with dementia,
specifically looking at the effects it can have on agitation, anxiety, mood and sleep.

The music workshops were generously funded by Superact.

Reminiscence Therapy

Since July 2012 Rosie Mead and Frankie Whittingham (Music Intern) have been working with the Occupational Therapy team to deliver Reminiscence Therapy sessions on four wards– Midford, Helena, Pulteney and Victoria for patients over 65 with dementia or cognitive impairment.

The groups took place once a fortnight on the wards and generally consisted of a maximum of six patients (who had been identified by the ward Occupational Therapist). The criterion was that attendees should have a cognitive impairment, not necessarily a diagnosis of dementia, and be mobile with minimal assistance.

All groups ran from 11am to 12 noon, and patients were invited to stay and eat their lunch together when the group ended. This is because positioning the seats so that patients can eat together improves behaviour, increases the amount of food consumed and provides an opportunity for social interaction.

Student Placements and Internship Programme

Over the last year we have had 8 music students undertaking placements at the RUH from Bath Spa University and the City of Bristol College. Whilst on placement the students have received training from Rosie in Dementia awareness, the use of music in healthcare, and they have had the opportunity to shadow Rosie as she performed on the wards, and to also perform on the wards themselves. The feedback from the students has been very positive and they have told us that they gained valuable experience from undertaking their placement.

Due to the success of our student placements this year, and the need for additional musical activities, we have developed an internship programme with the use of
funding from the RUH Charitable Funds. Through this Rosie is currently mentoring Frankie Whittingham, who undertook a student placement in May this year whilst she was studying at Bath Spa University. Frankie is leading weekly music and reminiscence workshops on four older peoples units and since August she has led 45 workshops, involving 600 patients. The internship will continue until March 2013, after which Frankie will lead a 12 week creative writing and reminiscence project, alongside facilitating music workshops for older patients.


“I think it is an excellent workshop for patients to get involved. It helps to engage patients especially those who can get bored easily. It is great that they can interact and can listen to musical instruments being played. I sat with a confused patient who really enjoyed participating and helped trigger his memory.”


“Music remains a very important part of the care for patients with dementia. It creates an environment that is stimulating for the patient and also provides something familiar for them, in a very alien setting. However, it is not just the dementia patients that benefit. It is obvious to see from the smiles on the faces of patients, relatives and staff that it has a positive impact to all present. There is a very different atmo- sphere when there is live music on the ward.”

Ward Manager Combe Ward

“All the patients thoroughly enjoy the music, I think it breaks up the day for patients in hospital who might not have much stimulation. It is also very nice to see patients joining in with the singing I have only had positive feedback.”

Ward Manager. Midford Ward.

“The music was a breath of fresh air”


“The music made my day”


“We didn’t realise that hospitals have music programmes. It is a great idea, long may it continue”