Nursing Times Award Winner

Nobody Does it Better..... than Kissing it Better

Before Christmas I took a group of Year 8 girls from Heath Mount School in to the Lister Hospital in Stevenage to sing.

They sang on the main corridor, in three wards, in outpatients, and then again on the main corridor.

They sang as they walked from place to place and people popped their heads out of doorways, and came up staircases to see where this wonderful singing was coming from. Members of staff told me that they had worked in outpatients for 20 years and they had never had such a wonderful visit.

While we were singing some people asked us if we could visit a ward and sing for a particular patient. This lady had sung in choirs all her life, and her relatives knew she would enjoy listening to our choir.

We went up to the ward, and very gently asked the patient’s family whether there was a particular carol or song that she would like.

At this point that I realised quite how ill the lady was although I didn’t tell the girls.

Her family were quite moved by the fact that we had remembered to go and sing to her and asked if the girls knew “O Holy Night”.

They sang it beautifully, and as they sang the patient turned over and faced them -even though she hadn’t been able to move position without help for the previous24 hours .

At the end her sister came and hugged me – she was very moved by the beautiful singing.

She said, “If that’s the last thing my sister hears before she dies - she will die happy”.

Sometimes the responses from patients or their visitors are not quite so clear and it can be act of faith to carry on singing. But I believe it is nearly always worthwhile as you never know who you might touch.

On another occasion I was accompanying a group of singers from the same school to The Lister Hospital. The girls sang in the main corridor and then on three wards but, though their singing was as beautiful as ever, towards the end they were a little disheartened, which was unusual.

They chatted to me on our way back downstairs, saying things like:

“It wasn’t nearly as rewarding as last time’

“No-one seemed to take any notice of us’,

“Everyone was busy’,

“All the patients were very ill - I felt as if we shouldn’t be there’

We decided to finish the visit with a song on the main corridor, as itwas quite busy at 7pm. They sang “Nobody Does it Better” as a finale.

There were lots of people walking backwards and forwards, and a few sitting on the seats opposite.

As soon as they started, everyone stopped walking about, stood still and listened. You could hear a pin drop - which, in a huge hospital corridor, is quite an accolade!

There was one lady who looked as if she was particularly enjoying the impromptu concert so I went and sat next to her.

At the end she clapped along with everyone else, and asked me about the girls - where they came from and why they were there. I explained that it was a Kissing it Better event, and that they had volunteered to come in after school to sing to patients and staff.

The lady said to me “I have just had the worst afternoon of my life. I have been told that my husband is terminally ill and won’t come home. I was sitting here thinking I don’t know whether I can drive home and you came along with these wonderful girls - as if by magic - and sang to me. Do you think they could sing something else?”

In the end they sang another three songs. They chatted to the lady and talked to her about their choir winning the Songs of Praise Choir of the Year 2012. She was rather overwhelmed by this as she said she had watched it with her husband and her mother, who had since died.

After that the lady felt strong enough to leave the hospital and make her way home.

Liz Pryor

Liz Pryor

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