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Charity Champion award for Marple woman

Diane Inglis

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Marple Charity Champion Scottish Power Helen Ashley Taylor ICU Hear scheme

Award winner Helen Ashley Taylor

A Marple woman has received a Charity Champion award from Scottish Power for her help in developing an initiative to reduce stress for hospital patients in intensive care. 

Helen Ashley Taylor, who was a volunteer and is now a trustee with the charity, Music in Hospitals & Care, came up with the idea of live music in intensive care, following her own experience in hospital.

“I was admitted to intensive care following routine surgery and was struck by how much the bleeping of the machines distressed me.

“It was only when I heard some soothing music on the television that I felt much calmer. The charity was already working in hospitals, but not in intensive care, and when I later discovered that other people had been affected as well, I decided to try to bring music into intensive care wards,” she said.

Guitarist Martin Bickerton with Emily Flesk of Stockport NHS Trust

The ICU Hear scheme is now an integral part of the charity’s work and is proving popular with patients and staff at hospitals across the UK.

Professional musicians perform live, helping to reduce stress and bring enjoyment to patients, visitors and staff.

Jess Ingham, Director North for Music in Hospitals & Care explained some of the benefits: “Music is known to boost wellbeing and can reduce stress and anxiety as well as being a distraction from pain and discomfort.

“Being in intensive care is particularly distressing and some patients have been found to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after leaving hospital. This is due to several things including the fact they have been in a frightening life or death situation, the endless bleeping of the equipment, the lights being on continuously.

“This can upset the natural body clock and be extremely challenging so our music sessions have been really well received.

“We use professional musicians, who are paid for their services, and select people specifically for their calm approach and broad repertoire. They are usually unassuming characters, who are good communicators and can interact well with patients. Sessions are led by staff at visiting times so families can enjoy the music as well,” she said.

A pilot scheme was launched at Manchester Royal Infirmary last year and has since been rolled out to other hospitals including The Christie and Salford Royal. Classical guitarist Martin Bickerton is currently performing a series of regular sessions at Stepping Hill and the £5,000 that Helen received for her award will fund more sessions in Wales and Scotland.

Music in Hospitals & Care celebrates its 70th birthday next year and now gives up to 1,000 concerts per year to everyone from babies to patients at the end of their life. 

Jess continued: “Our fund raising is vital and we are really grateful to organisations such as Simply Health and the Kaiser Trust in Hazel Grove who have supported us recently.

“We also had buskers at this year’s Marple Food and Drink Festival which raised a further £150 so would like to thank everyone who took part and donated funds,” she concluded.