Student nurse composes music and plays for elderly patients

Aisha Moussari-O’Neill is a final year nursing student at the University of the West of England, on placement at North Bristol Trust. Having spent some time on Elgar 1, one of the elderly care wards at Southmead Hospital, Aisha decided to compose and play an original piece of music at their Memory Café.

Student nurse and training nursing associate

Training Nursing Associate Tina Thomson, Practice Development Nurse Becky Fowler and Student Nurse Aisha Moussari-O’Neill

The monthly Memory Café provides a quality opportunity for carers and patients to spend time with staff enjoying refreshments and undertaking various creative activities.

For Aisha, she saw an opportunity to use her love and talent for music as way to connect with patients living with dementia and to express herself creatively.

She said:

‘I first learned to play the piano around the age of nine and quickly used it as a form of expression because it helped me whenever I would feel frustrated or wanted a moment to myself. I love being able to write my own songs, encouraging people to ‘feel’ something from my playing.

I would say my two greatest passions in life are music and developing my understanding of dementia. What I have learned is music often brings joy to patients such as those who visit the ‘Memory Café’ in Elgar House. This afternoon in particular I was honoured to play some piano music for a small patient audience, we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. One of the patients even named a song ‘Mountain Stream’ because that’s what they were reminded of. A really special afternoon.’

The feedback from the patients was heartwarming. One patient said: ‘The music really encouraged us to move around and it was great to spend time with other patients’ while others commented that the afternoon was ‘really lovely’ and ‘we had a great time’.