Musician visits help calm critically ill patients

05 March 2018

Musician visits help calm critically ill patients
Charity funding is bringing live music sessions to Intensive Care Unit patients to help them relax and take their mind off their surroundings.

ICUs can be terrifying experiences for patients, who, on top of dealing with physical pain and discomfort, find themselves surrounded by constant noise and disruption in an unfamiliar environment.

The weekly sessions, part of the ICU-Hear project, make use of tailored performances featuring a variety of instruments and have been shown to have a positive impact on patients.

Jess Ingham, Director at Music in Hospitals & Care, which organises the performances, has seen the difference they can make first-hand.

“Music, performed by skilled, professional musicians, can offer a human touch, a sense of something familiar, safe and comforting.  Focus is taken away from illness and pain.”

“Staff also benefit from music within the ICU.  If stress levels across the unit can be lowered, it will be of benefit to everyone.  When one of our musicians played on ICU at Manchester Royal Infirmary after the Manchester bomb attack, one of the nursing staff remarked that it was like experiencing an oasis of calm in what was otherwise such a terrible week.”

The project began after Helen Ashley Taylor, one of MIHC’s trustees was taken to an ICU due to complications resulting from surgery. Disturbed by the constant, frightening noise, she was momentarily calmed by the sound of music coming from a nearby television.

Now, ICU-Hear sessions take place in eleven hospitals throughout England and Cath Applewhite, Critical Care Sister at Manchester Royal Infirmary, believes the results speak for themselves.

"The music has a clear impact on the experience of Critical Care for our patients, relatives and staff.  The environment is at times chaotic, loud, busy and stressful.  This is changed in an instant to that of calmness, concentration, relaxation and quietness simply by the presence of the musicians and their performance." 

You can read more about MIHC’s work at