New live music concerts for intensive care patients at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital

Seriously ill patients in Chelsea and Westminster Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit are now being treated to live music performances of their choice, thanks to a new programme recently launched by our arts team. For the first time since the UK-wide lockdown in March, we have been trialling a new series of live concerts, delivered virtually via Zoom to the bedsides of intensive care patients.

We are lucky to have our very own Music and Sound Research Consultant at CW+, Andy Hall, who played a variety of music on his piano at home for these initial performances, ranging from 1920s jazz era tunes to Elton John and Fleetwood Mac favourites. Patients were able to request their preferred genre or artist, as the concerts were held one-to-one in the newly refurbished Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, where each patient has their own private room fitted with a flatscreen television and state-of-the-art technology.

Improving patients’ quality of life and experience in hospital is the primary aim of our arts team at CW+. Our Director of Patient Environment Trystan Hawkins said: “Interacting with music and art makes a real difference to patient experience and care, especially in difficult wards such as ICU, where there are some very ill patients. Despite the recent challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are working hard to ensure that we can still bring the arts to patients and staff in our hospitals.”

The music sessions offer patients a chance to relax, be distracted from their surroundings and situation, and experience a private concert without leaving the unit and with no disruption to their medical care.  Both patients and ICU staff praised the concerts, particularly as intensive care patients are often in hospital suffering from serious illnesses and for longer periods of time – these performances provide patients with a sense of normalcy, reducing boredom and loneliness.

Sue, a patient in her early fifties, was fortunate to be leaving the unit for another ward immediately after the concert. “I loved listening to Edith Piaf’s La Vie en Rose when Andy played it – he said the song was played at his wedding,” said Sue. “The music really brightened up my day, and Andy was amazing, very talented and pleasant!”

Andy: "This was my first performance in four months, it was a huge pleasure!"
ICU patient Sue "thoroughly enjoyed" listening to Andy play

These concerts are the most recent addition to Virtual Connections, our digital arts programme launched in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which hosts a range of music, art, dance, exercise classes and other activities to support patient and staff wellbeing.

Following these initial performances, we hope to schedule a regular live-stream performance series for patients across the Trust, in partnership with the Royal Academy of Music.