© Courtesy of Room 217
By Bev Foster
It was in Room 217 at a rural Ontario hospital where my mom, brothers, and sisters surrounded Dad, singing his favourite songs as best we could remember. Even though he was heavily sedated, Dad managed to sing along. We were deeply connected by the music. We watched how the songs that had given him strength and insight into living helped to prepare him for his final journey.
I was left with two haunting questions that January night. Is there anything more powerful than music to bring people together through the passages of living and dying? Do caregivers have access to tools, understanding, and evidence about music in care?
Compelled to find answers, my husband and I started the Room 217 Foundation in 2009, working to improve the care experience using music. Answering these questions continues to be the mission driver at Room 217.
Room 217 programs advance a more relational and human approach to care.
We enhance the quality of life for those in care with specifically designed music care products. Our Music Collections contain 24 albums made for end-of-life care, helping reduce pain perception and decrease agitation. Our music supports loved ones with complex tasks such as saying ‘goodbye,’ ‘I love you,’ ‘thank you,’ and any unfinished business. Our Pathways singing program, a series of 13 video episodes, is made for dementia care and is guided by a singing host. Our sets of Conversation Cards are used in one-on-one visits to share musical memories and moments. All our products are available in hard copy, from our website store, or digitally on the musiccare CONNECT app on Google Play or the Apple Store.
Our training and education programs increase the confidence of formal and informal caregivers to integrate music into their regular practice. Our annual music care conference moves across cities in Canada to spread awareness about the healing power of music. Standardized training provides tools and strategies for all caregivers. Our online training dives deeper into practical topics, like ‘Ukuleles for Care’ and ‘Drumming for Care’ and are designed to learn at your own pace.
We now recognize individuals and organizations demonstrating excellence in music care delivery through our music care certification program. This quality improvement model uses music to achieve better care outcomes. It is the first program of its kind in Canada.
Room 217 programming is based on the evidence and knowing music makes life better. We’ve developed the music care approach, the intentional use of music by anyone to improve health and well-being for self and others. Music care promotes the application of sound and music to be used in formal health care settings, in the community or within your home. Music care is inclusive, offering a variety of delivery methods and a means for both an intercultural and intergenerational connection. Music care can be implemented by all caregivers regardless of their musical ability.
Who knew that one family’s experience might impact thousands of other families? One thing is for sure: whether we’re living or dying, the intentional use of music enhances the care experience and brings moments of joy to those in care.
You can find out more about our LEARN and CERTIFY programs at www.musiccare.org
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We are a social enterprise changing the culture of care by making music a more primary approach to health and well-being