Liverpool Philharmonic’s flagship Music and Health Programme, now the longest-running and largest of its kind, will celebrate its 15th birthday in October 2023. Working across 27 wards in 4 partner NHS trusts, the Music & Health programme is an initiative that harnesses the power of music to promote well-being and improve the mental and physical health of participants.
Along with original partners Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust, Improving Me (a consortium of 27 NHS organisations) and the Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust, the Music and Health programme has supported over 18,000 people living with mental and physical ill health across the Liverpool City Region.
The programme places emphasis on individuals’ creative agency as part of their recovery journey and raises confidence through learning new skills. Music and Health provide opportunities for participants to benefit from live music in the community and care sites and boosts wellbeing.
In addition to working across hospital and care settings, Music and Health welcomes referrals from GPs, Link Workers and community groups across the region into Social Prescribing and community programmes. Music and Health provide participants and NHS professionals access to free musical activities, concerts and rehearsal visits to hear the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.
The 15th anniversary celebrations will see current and past participants from across the programme take part in special performances both on the stage and in hospital wards. In addition to performances, Liverpool Philharmonic and the University of Liverpool will release a joint special report on the benefits the programme has had on participants, their families, NHS Staff and musicians since its inception. On 16 October, the celebrations will draw to a close with a special event held at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster hosted by Dan Carden MP for Liverpool, Walton.
Feedback from the thousands of participants demonstrate the long term, positive impact of the Music and Health programme on individuals’ recovery journey and physical and mental wellbeing:
“People think I am a different person these days. We cannot mend ourselves with medicine alone. That is why these courses are so important to me and many others.”
“I feel happier…It lifts me a lot especially as I am so isolated.”
“The sessions get me out of the house and make me feel less alone. It has really helped with my anxiety.”
The Music and Health programme began in 2008 in partnership with Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, who pioneered the first mental health NHS Musician in Residence programme. Michael Crilly, Director of Social Health & Community Inclusion, said:
“Those of us connected to this partnership between Mersey Care and the Philharmonic over the last decade have witnessed first-hand the phenomenal impact that music has had upon the recovery journey of literally thousands of service users across all parts of our organisation.
These programmes have delivered a truly humanising process, through which our service users have been engaged as a whole person and not simply seen as the diagnosis that so often defines their existence.
Mersey Care has remained committed to this partnership year on year not simply because it is merely a ‘nice’ thing to do but because we have successively seen the programmes deliver very real and transformative recovery and well-being outcomes.”
Participant Performances and Performances in Hospitals
Between 9 – 20 October, the programme will host performances in hospitals for family and friends of ward participants. Led by musicians from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra for special sessions aimed at demonstrating the profound mental and physical impacts of collaborative music-making.
On 12 and 13 October, participants will give a performance to invited guests. Devised by past and current participants of the programme, the performance will explore the journey from Darkness to Light through live musical performance.
University of Liverpool Evaluation Report
During the course of this programme, there have been significant findings regarding music improving the general health and wellbeing of hospital patients and people in the community. These findings will be published in a report in partnership with the University of Liverpool to mark the 15th anniversary.
The report is drawn from 2022/23 studies by the University of Liverpool’s Professor Josie Billington PhD, Dr Jaqueline Waldock PhD and Dr Melissa Chapple PhD, consultation with Royal College of Music Professor Rosie Perkins FHEA, FRSPH, HonRCM, and research by University of Sunderland visiting Professor Susanne Burns.
Based on three pillars of wellbeing, the report focuses on Living Well, Working Well and Playing Well, looking at the impact of participants, NHS Staff and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra musicians respectively. These findings also detail feedback from some of the 18,000 participants who have actively benefitted from the programme’s wide range of resources, regular sessions and social prescribing.
The report demonstrates that the Music and Health Programme:
- Enhances mood and self-esteem for those experiencing mental or physical illness.
- Helps people rebuild confidence and develop skills.
- Supports independent living in the community, making new connections or returning to employment.
The full academic paper will be published in October 2023.