In a north London care home a charity is putting some musical joy into the lives of its residents

© spitz/joanna layla
Capturing the moment: a Spitz musician and patient at the care home

HOW EASY it is for those of us caught up in the Christmas rush of consumerism, last-minute work assignments and frantic party-going to forget about the aged.

The Spitz never forgets them. It is dedicated to running music-making sessions for old people suffering dementia and other conditions.

Loving Dalston’s editor was so moved by an item Spitz founder-director Jane Glitre wrote for the charity’s newsletter about a day at a care home that he requested, and was given, permission to use the piece.

Glitre said that in the morning the musicians had visited residents in their rooms at Haringey council’s Osbourne Grove care home. In the afternoon, people able to leave their beds came together for a group session.

Here is her story:

“When are you coming again?” The woman’s voice was faint, the words hard to decipher from someone I hadn’t realised could speak. 

Lain in her large wheelchair, she had spent most of the session trying to hide one of our maracas under her jumper. 

The home’s activity officer was amazed by her question. It was obvious she had enjoyed the music, and wonderful that this very frail lady had managed to ask something and that she was looking to the future. 

Participants ranged in age from 50 years old to 95. Many are bed-bound, the rest use wheelchairs or Zimmer frames.

On arrival one client was swearing at us and saying “I hate you”. As soon as the music began, she would relax and look deeply at us.

Almost every single room received some kind of music and conversation in the morning. Only one man didn’t want anything. He sat, sadly, his head in his hands. We mentioned it to a staff member and were delighted to see him at the afternoon session, smiling and joining in.

The afternoon group session was much enhanced by the intimacy of the morning: more people came and some, recognising us,  joined in the music. 

After an hour, staff went around to ask whether anyone wanted to leave. They all wanted to stay.

One woman remarked: “I shall remember this for the rest of my life. Always.”

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* Backstory: Haggy charrie hits a memorable note

* To donate press this link. Drawing at top is one of many from the day, by Joanna Layla.

* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained.

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