Led by a team of occupational, physio, music, and speech and language therapists, the delivery of music therapy has, so far, been enthusiastically received by patients, staff, and family members across the ward, and there is now demand for music therapy on both the hyper-acute and in-patient rehabilitation wards.

Working closely alongside the team at Charing Cross, Chroma has been delivering two weekly days of neurologic music therapy (NMT) and traditional psychoanalytic music therapy to help the multidisciplinary team achieve patient recovery goals, and to offer them a way of managing the emotional demands of life immediately after a stroke.

The overlap of treatment interventions for such impairments across the other therapies means that the team expound a philosophy of interdisciplinary intervention and take an impairment-based, as opposed to a domain-based, approach to rehabilitation and patient goal setting.

So far the MDT approach has been able to demonstrate the impact music therapy, when used alongside traditional therapies, is having on client recovery. For example, in a recent staff survey, 95 per cent say neurologic music therapy enhances the ‘traditional’ therapeutic interventions offered and 78 per cent say having neurologic music therapy on the stroke unit gives the opportunity to learn new skills or knowledge.

One staff member said: “I think NMT is fantastic It is a great opportunity for therapists and their patients (including patient families). The music therapist is really committed to NMT and service development. The patients appear to really enjoy music therapy and request it – hence why if the music therapist can be here more days a week that would be fab!”

For the Trust, music therapy has above all bought a new dimension to the dynamic of rehabilitation on the ward: the open music group.

One of the hopes of the project was that it would help engage hard to reach patients, and possibly offer a space where patients could come together and share their experience of being on the ward.

This has been achieved through the open-music group sessions which meets once a week for an hour, and is made up of half a dozen or so patients who come together and talk about what they are going through, what struggles they are undertaking, what success they have achieved, and what hopes or fears they have for the future, amongst a myriad of other things.

The group allows each patient to listen to one another, support their fellow members, and foster not only a sense of solidarity, but also the feeling that they are able to be there for someone else.

Managed by the therapist but led by the associations of the group, patients report feelings of calmness, relief, friendship, and fun that they carry with them throughout the week. It is an open group meaning any patient is welcome to join, but it tends to be members of the ward who are slightly higher in cognitive capacity, however members who are non-verbal or who have high-level physical impairments also join the group.

Through improvisation, singing songs selected by patients and therapists, or engaging in free improvisations, or indeed sometimes, silence – a rare gift in the acute setting, some truly wonderful moments that happen when people suffering the same pain come together have been observed.

When a person feels alienated from themselves and to then have someone sit next to them, someone who knows what they are going through and have them lovingly place their hand on theirs, this sense of shared recovery support is something no doctor, nurse, or therapist can give.

Thanks to the Imperial Health Charity for its support of this project (https://www.imperialcharity.org.uk/), we have been able to demonstrate the effectiveness of NMT and open group work.

Charlie Flint is a neurologic music therapist at Chroma Therapies.