9 Apr 2021 Care
Virtual Choir Group offers support during the pandemic
As the coronavirus pandemic impacted the way we live our lives over the last 12 months, our teams quickly adapted their services to continue supporting those that need us most. For Margaret Rogers, our new Online Choir Group has been a key form of support since her husband sadly died back in May last year.
Margaret and John Rogers accessed services with The Kirkwood following John’s diagnosis of incurable heart and kidney conditions in late 2018. Since then, our Support & Therapy team have been a lifeline of support for the family, every step of the way.
But once the coronavirus pandemic hit the UK in March 2020, their regular attendance at Drop-In on Wednesdays and Fridays was sadly suspended in-line with the Government’s restrictions. In response to the guidelines, our teams have since adapted their services in order to continue supporting people like Margaret in their own homes.
Our Support & Therapy team have launched a series of Virtual Wellbeing Sessions for people living with a life limiting illness and their carers to access online via Zoom. This led to the partnership with well-known music therapy charity, Nordoff Robins, to offer weekly group choir sessions.
Nordoff Robins' Alan Rudkin and The Kirkwood Support & Therapy Manager Mary Tyrell Place as ABBA
Our online choir sessions take place every Friday and our service users spend an hour with each other – virtually – singing much-loved songs with one another. We know that singing in front of others can be a nerve-racking idea, that’s why everyone taking part has their microphones muted so they can sing comfortable in their own homes.
Here, Margaret tells us how the Online Choir Group with Nordoff Robins’ Alan Rudkin has helped her through the pandemic after John sadly died in May last year.
“John died in May last year and whilst we were expecting it, we weren’t at the same time. He fell at home and broke his hip. He was taken to hospital and once they had mended his hip, he was being prepared to be transferred to the In-Patient Unit but unfortunately his heart gave in and he died in hospital.
John and Margaret with their two daughters, Dawn and Beverly, on their Diamond wedding anniversary in February 2017
“We knew 12-18 months before he died that he wasn’t going to get better, and he’d said he wanted to either die at home or on the In-Patient Unit. We were unlucky that John wasn’t able to get down there.” Says Margaret.
“Things have been very hard. If everything was normal, we would have been going down to the Support & Therapy Centre on a Wednesday and a Friday – it was very helpful. But I now belong to the virtual choir with Alan on a Friday.
“I first have a one-to-one music therapy session with Alan on a Friday morning where we talk about music and then I attend the group choir session in the afternoon with my daughter Dawn.
“I find my one-to-one sessions with Alan very helpful. He’s a nice man and we get on very well. I once told him about how John used to write poems for me, and he said how nice one of them would be set to music. I told him I had never composed music before and over the next few weeks we worked up a tune to the poem together.
“Things have been difficult; John didn’t get any of his wishes due to the circumstances and we haven’t been able to get together as a family to celebrate his life. But everything that The Kirkwood team have done has been a big help.
“They also set me up with a telephone befriender, we have a weekly call for an hour and the conversation is virtually non-stop. I really look forward to these calls, we’ve never met and no doubt ever will, but I find I can tell Rachel anything knowing it will go no further.”
For Margaret, attending our Support & Therapy Centre with John was a great way for the family to access support, but also to meet new people who were going through similar situations to them. Virtual options like the Online Choir Group has been a great way for Margaret and her Daughter, Dawn, to see friendly faces on a weekly basis.
John, Margaret and Dawn at a Friday Drop-In session at the Support & Therapy Centre (pre-Covid)
Margaret continues: “Gradually the choir is getting a little bit bigger. It’s growing week after week.
“It’s well worth being able to take part in the online choir, we all have a laugh and sing nice songs. We sing songs I don’t know – my repertoire comes from the 1960s as I’m 86 – but I sing the songs I know and the ones I don’t, I muddle through. When we’re singing, we have to mute ourselves too. So we’re only really singing in our own homes rather than to each other.
“We get an invitation for the session sent through email with a link to join each week. All you do is click on that and it opens up for you.”
Our Virtual Wellbeing Sessions are available for those living with a life limiting illness and their carers. To find out more about the sessions available and how they can help you to manage your condition, click here.
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