Research recently published by the University of Oxford has confirmed communal singing is beneficial both physically and mentally, providing everything from pain relief to improved happiness and wellbeing.
With such positive effects on health and a marked change in an attitude, especially among young people, towards joining a choir, Seaneen McErlane, Lifestyle Co-ordinator at Milesian Manor Care Home, has just launched Northern Ireland’s first care home based intergenerational choir.
Seaneen said: “I have a background in music, and I have experienced how it can help heal and bring people together. Intergenerational activities are extremely important to the team and the residents at Milesian Manor and play a vital role in keeping the residents active and engaged.
“We work closely with a lot of youth and school groups – in fact, over 40 school children visit our residents every week. They play games, sing songs and chat about life and even exchange some skills!
“It’s a really positive experience for everyone, so we want to extend that further to encourage our resident’s families and people from the local community to get involved by forming an intergenerational choir to bring people of all ages together in communal song.
“At Milesian Manor we feel very strongly about the importance of community and we hope that given time our choir will bring together people from local schools, cross community and cultural groups as well as residents and their families, we want our residents to feel that they play an important role in the local community and want all of our choir members to feel a part of something special and important.
“Our choir is not just about singing though, we’ll also follow each session with a ‘cuppa and a chat’ which we hope will ultimately help to unite communities and strengthen the existing family units within the home. We hope the choir will offer a support platform for those who may be struggling with having a loved one in care. Even though our choir is in the early stages we have already seen enhanced relationships within the families, especially those within the dementia unit for whom life can be particularly tough.
“Increasing evidence suggests social connections play a vital role in maintaining our general health. Being part of an intergenerational choir will promote feelings of being connected with a group, leading to a sense of increased community and belonging, which in turn promotes health and wellbeing.”
The launch of the new choir is supported by West End singing legend Peter Corry who has been announced as its official patron.
“I’m delighted to be involved in such an inspiring project that will bring joy and energy into the lives of everyone involved,” Peter said.
“Music is the perfect way to connect and build social bonds, learn new skills, meet friends, and it provides both physical and mental stimulation.
“More importantly, it’s really enjoyable to participate in and listen to great music when combined voices are belting their hearts out. I urge people of any age to come along and join in. You won’t regret it, and it’s free because the only equipment you need is your voice.”
Located in Magherafelt, Milesian Manor is Northern Ireland’s first lifestyle care home. Residents enjoy not only the best care but also a bar, cinema, spa bathroom, wellness garden and a varied activities program, of which the intergenerational choir will be part.
Milesian Manor resident Albert Vasquez said: “Having such a choir is a brilliant way to bring people together. We can all learn and support one another in song and I hope lots of young people will come along and join us and enjoy the singing and the social aspects. We warmly welcome them all to our home for some rousing tunes and good conversation.”
Louise McKee, neice of resident Albert and her daughter Carly (7) are one of the first families to get involved with the choir;
“We love coming to visit Uncle Albert at Milesian Manor but now that we have had the chance to join in the with the choir it is giving us a really enjoyable fun experience which really helps engage with him, the kids are loving it and it makes the visits so much fun! This choir isn’t about being a great singer but about being part of something bigger and connecting to other human beings in a way that is not mediated through a tech device and that’s pretty special these days.”
If you are interested in joining Milesian Manor Intergenerational choir, please contact Seaneen McErlane on 028 7963 1842
No experience or singing talent is necessary, just a willingness to come along, join in and make new friends.
For more information about Milesian Manor visit www.milesianmanor.com