Most everyone knows the song "Let it Be" by the Beatles or "Respect" by Aretha Franklin or the US national anthem. Most teens today could sing along "Baby" by Justin Bieber, and most 90's kids will recognize Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit."
Why? Because music defines and unites generations and even people across generations. That is the power of music.
We thought, how might we bring that visceral effect of music to the end of life experience?
The idea began with one of our team members who recently volunteered at the Mother Teresa Foundation. The volunteers began every day with breakfast and a chorus of two songs, a morning welcome song and a goodbye song for any volunteers who were leaving the program that day. The ritual of singing together created a sense of community and invigorated the group with purpose and renewed energy.
The caroling program begins with the patient's first day in the hospital, where we would ask them to share their favorite music or song with us. They can opt into the program or opt out.
Nurses, doctors and caretakers can then find their patient's song requests through an online platform. Caroling practice happens every week in the 'wellness center' a space where nurses, doctors and staff can rest or take classes and workshops.
The purpose is to bring an element of surprise and delight to the patients' hospital experiences and help them incorporate something from their life before the hospital.
Another continuation of this idea is to host karaoke talent shows where patients and caretakers can pair together to sing.