A PROJECT that brings together children and elderly people in care homes and hospitals through the arts has been continuing its work during the coronavirus lockdown.

Intergenerational Music Making (IMM) was set up by Horsell resident Charlotte Miller, a music therapist who was employed in the NHS before working privately in schools and care homes.

It takes schoolchildren to care homes and hospitals to sing for and play music to residents and patients.

The lockdown suspended the actual visits, but IMM has been running Care to Create, which has expanded the range of material to include stories, poems, drawings and paintings created by pupils from 15 schools across Surrey.

These, along with songs and music, are delivered to 45 care homes and can be viewed online by individual residents or groups according to their need for self-isolation.

Written and visual work is being sent to hospitals, including St Peter’s, where they are used to decorate walls and for the patients to enjoy.

“Through Care to Create, we are determined to keep connections strong and active through the power of the arts,” said Charlotte. “This multimedia approach aims to strengthen capacity for social connection, friendship and compassion whilst improving the emotional and mental wellbeing of both generations.

“Through storytelling, music making, composing, writing and sharing a message of hope, we are inspiring people to build and maintain strong reciprocal social relationships. The response from residents and staff in care homes has suggested that this act of kindness is deeply needed, as a lot of the residents are experiencing feelings of loneliness and isolation.

“Many of the schools we work with have also included Care to Create as part of their home-schooling, encouraging the children to spend a little time making something to send it to their local hospital, care home, elderly neighbour or post it on Facebook.”

Charlotte, who grew up in West Byfleet, started IMM after the experience of visiting her grandmother in a care home around 25 years ago. “Music was the only thing I found with which I could connect with her,” she said.

“She was terribly confused and agitated but if I sang or played my flute, she would sing along, sometimes in her native Welsh, and she would remember who I was.”

IMM has held concerts by children and care home residents at the Electric Theatre in Guildford and last year it took 11 buses full of performers from across Surrey to a health and music conference at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Charlotte said the suspension of visits was sad for the children and the care home residents. “We asked the service users what they wanted, and the children came up with the idea of writing stories, poems and creating drawings and paintings,” she added.

Another strand of Care to Create has involved music students aged 16 to 24 calling care home residents and interacting one-to-one or via speakerphone to groups in a lounge.

Charlotte said that the work of IMM has benefited the children and care home residents. “We had clients who wouldn’t get out of bed and felt isolated, but when the children were coming to visit, they would get up early and wait.”

For more information, visit www.imm-music.com, or email [email protected].