Head of Initial Contact, Adult Safeguarding and Service Transformation
People Directorate, London Borough of Sutton
"Meta Killick and Alistair Clarkson's capabilities as music therapists are beyond doubt.
"What really has made working with them a highly productive, stretching and inspirational experience, however, has been their willingness to grasp new concepts and approaches and to put these rapidly into practice. This is especially true with the contribution made to the implementation of Making Safeguarding Personal (MSP), now part of the statutory guidance for the Care Act (2014). MSP requires that adults at risk of abuse are placed at the very centre of safeguarding practice and that any interventions made are directed by their wishes and that they judge whether or not they have been successful. Music, and art, therapy proved invaluable in this, both in finding out from adults at risk what approaches might work and in engaging people, perhaps with dementia or learning disabilities, who would otherwise have been hard to involve.
"From this work came the realisation that approaches that prevented rather than detected and investigated abuse or neglect might be more effective. This was crystallised into What Good Looks Like, a method based on community group music therapy, for creating and assessing improvements in the way that services engage with their vulnerable users. The results already show considerable promise by increasing the number of interactions in services that enhance, rather than diminish, personhood and by awakening support staff and their managers to the overlooked talents and abilities of the people they support."
Brook Care Homes
"We wanted to finally thank you in writing for the wonderful 24 weeks working with us in Beeches, Mondays are just not the same any more without you! We appreciated your consistency, your reliability. We liked the range of instruments you offered us; it was wonderful to have the guitar, the big drums and the harp as well as the other wide range of smaller instruments. We appreciated your warmth, your kindness and your patience as well as the flexibility when we couldn’t all be there or when there were occasional alternative demands.
"I wanted to set out the benefits of the sessions for our residents and staff since I hope you will have the opportunity to go on doing what you do for others. It is very easy to measure outcomes in terms of numbers or hours but much harder to recognize and measure the impact on wellbeing when adults have the opportunity to participate in creative and spontaneous activity such as music. As you have taught us through some of the research you have shared with us and reminded us through participation - making music together is as primal and ancient as the development of the human race. It is part of the expression of our soul and it is easy to overlook the significance of activities like the music sessions in these times of austerity and pared back services.
"I think the greatest benefit has been the space to enjoy making music with staff and residents together and the greatest visible change was the anticipation by residents of the session, looking forward to it as they did. As you know there were two residents who either decided it wasn’t for them or were involved in something outside the home on a regular basis but everyone else really got something from being in the group.
"It was also a measurable and visible benefit to see the way in which staff made efforts to help those who could not independently engage to take part as fully as possible by offering a choice and variety of instruments and by demonstrating what was possible.
"This interaction was a good example of spontaneous communication and of course the best outcome was having fun together.
"Everyone was lifted up on a Monday morning by playing together, having fun together and for a while just staying with the music rather than thinking about the challenges of the day whether that be the challenge of communication when your speech is impaired or the challenge of getting through your work routine for the day.
"We also saw residents helping each other to join in showing the potential to strengthen the sense of group and community.
"Who can forget CN’s shy delight at hearing her name sung by the group, or J’s use of her voice to participate, shunning actually playing an instrument but nevertheless fiercely hanging onto an instrument throughout the session. I was reminded of the importance of being in the moment, not thinking about the end product, making music is a pleasure but so much as also about interacting and having fun together, allowing each person to find expression in their own way at the same time as being part of something that we were achieving together.
"As you know this was so important for our small community since individual abilities to communicate, to move, to get involved vary hugely and yet the session enabled everyone to be involved that wanted to, so everyone got to contribute. At one level that might be J finally having the courage one week to play herguitar orD who could only join in through her presence, her sound contributions and also hanging onto an instrument.
"I think it was interesting to see that much of the time, we the staff were more self-conscious in participating than were the residents and that in some ways this is a leveling benefit- we all have different strengths and in this case the residents were less hampered by self-consciousness than we were. The residents showed the staff how to throw oneself into the moment and enjoy playing together.
"Finally I wanted to mention some positive spin offs from our contact.
"We have started our own music group and hope to add to the small instruments we hold in stock, J and DF have both played guitar, it does at the moment depend on one staff, J, being on duty who is particularly good at facilitating this group, another group has been reborn singing along to the old favorite songs and this is more the forte of another staff member, C.
"As you know we now have an i-pad for residents use, and one resident so far has their own. Based on the film, “Alive Inside “ from the Sundance film festival, that you shared with us, we are going to create music folders for each resident based on their particular memories and background and for those who really enjoy the experience we will arrange for purchase personal i-pods and headphones. This is a work in progress at the moment but an exciting spin off from the project.
"Continue doing what you do so well, thank you both."
"Thanks for Meta for all the harp playing and workshops with the mandelas and the drumming and for giving our keynote speech - well done. It was great. We sold 68 tickets and had some children come along too who enjoyed the art and dance and all the workshops and talks etc. I am very pleased that we had lots of the general public come along as well as people with mental health issues who don't normally come to our service. The aim was to break down stigma and this was really achieved I believe."