Across the country, healthcare charity, Kissing it Better, connects Hospitals and Care Homes with local schools, colleges and universities. Wherever we go, we meet wonderful groups of young people, all keen to offer their time and special talents, through our very specific programme, to those less fortunate than themselves.
All our visits start with some kind of performance. Whether it's a three year old reciting a nursery rhyme as part of a nursery school visit , or a secondary school choir singing popular songs, the older people are touched that young people are prepared to give up their time to make a real difference to theirs.
It is particularly rewarding when someone, who may have lost their short-term memory, can respond to a familiar song or poem, often recalling every word. In those instances their faces are often mixture of delight and relief that they have found an anchor in what is sometimes a frightening and bewildering world.
And they love the fun and energy that the groups generate. Last month a choir from Alcester Grammar had a spontaneous ballroom dancing lesson from two residents from Cedar Lawn Care Home much to the delight of other residents in the day room. This week around a dozen patients and visitors on an older people’s ward at The Whittington hospital started dancing or jigging in their beds when one of our team offered them a Sinatra/Patsy Cline medley. Every performance is delivered with great sensitivity.
Most older people don’t want to talk about being old, they want to share their memories, of a mischievous past with young people who visit. Hearing patients giggle as they recall some misdemeanour is delightful, especially when you see the surprised reaction on the young people’s faces.
Feedback from those receiving, and giving, this loving care has been very moving.
Barbara Head, at Walsall Manor hospital
‘Mum died three weeks ago. I remember how she enjoyed the poem you read her by Kipling IF. I miss her terribly but I will always remember that day’. Barbara Head, Walsall Manor Hospital
‘Doing voluntary work with the charity, Kissing it Better, was one of the most incredible and heart-warming experiences of my life. It was such a fulfilling feeling when you watched somebody slowly recollect the lines of a poem or the lyrics to a song and a warm smile begins to spread across their face. Or even just talking to someone who is lonely and they want to tell you their anecdotes and you hear the most incredible of stories. You learn a lot about different peoples’ traditions or cultures and you learn quite a lot about how the hospital works. It is a wonderfully rewarding experience that I would be delighted to take part in again and again, and it has reinforced my love of working with peopl’e. Rhianna Last, Kings High School, Warwick
To those people, and the countless others who give their time so freely, we are so grateful for their incredible support and encouragement.
Jill Fraser - Director and co-Founder of Kissing it Better
For more information, see BBC films on www.kissingitbetter.co.uk
For countless more testimonies see www.kissingitbetter.co.uk/testimonies
Watch and listen to the Kissing it Better School Nurses song