By Helen Ford
Live music is being brought straight to the bedsides of some of the region's most seriously ill patients.
The initiative is taking place at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital, part of wider efforts to 'humanise' the experience for patients and their families.
Medical staff recognise that intensive care can be a stressful and even frightening experience, with patients enduring lengthy and sometimes painful treatments.
The hospital is working with the charity Music in Hospitals and Care, which has been delivering music in clinical settings for many decades. Bringing live performances to intensive care wards is a new challenge. The charity says it relies on the sensitivity and compassion of its musicians.
So far, two live music sessions have taken place at Freeman Hospital. Musician Claire Tustin moves from bed to bed, singing and chatting to patients.
Normally, the only music available to intensive care patients is through headphones. Patients say the live alternative is a chance to forget their health worries for a few minutes, and re-connect with the outside world.
It is early days for this project but according to the hospital, feedback from patients, their families and staff has been positive. Nurses have reported that patients who were previously withdrawn have become more talkative.
Music in Hospitals and Care will start a similar session at Sunderland Royal Hospital in December and the hope is that more hospitals will follow suit.
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