“Music, whether in good health or illness, provides an immediate connection with people. It lights up neural pathways.”
– Bev Foster, Founder, Room 217 Foundation
The Room 217 Foundation is an internationally focused non-profit organization based in Port Perry, Ontario. About 10 years ago, this small, under-the-radar charity identified a key element missing from many long term care homes and hospital rooms, one that would greatly improve the quality of end-of-life care: music.
Room 217 set out to change the culture of care through specialized music and training for caregivers. Music care is defined as the intentional use of music to improve health and well-being, using sound and music as a holistic solution and focusing on the relationship between the caregiver and patient. Music humanizes care, deepens relationships and enriches the care experience.
“We hope that music will enhance the quality of life for the person that is dying or may be living with some sort of life-threatening illness. But we’re also hoping that we make the task of caregiving more human, more pleasant, more relational for the person that day-after-day is giving care,” said Room 217 Founder Bev Foster.
Like many organizations, Room 217 suffered from the pandemic. Care facilities went into lockdown and it became impossible to bring live music into a hospice or long-term care unit. However, the global shutdown had one positive impact: it allowed Room 217 time to reorganize, rebrand and develop new concepts that express its core purpose. “Room 217” became “Musiccare by Room 217,” emphasizing a global goal of bringing music into care.
Under the Musiccare banner, they have consolidated their work into 3 areas:
- musiccare CONNECT™, an app launched on October 1st, makes almost 900 assets (songs, videos and activities) easily available, so that people can create and use personalized music care programs anytime, anywhere. The app is currently available in Canada and the UK.
- musiccare LEARN™ provides a pathway to better care by offering accessible programs and resources to caregivers.
- musiccare CERTIFY™, awards a certification for individuals, organizations, products and services (the last two are still in development) for those that achieve outstanding standards in music care delivery.
When pandemic restrictions lifted, Musiccare by Room 217 was able to introduce these new program areas to their communities in a safe way, helping caregivers engage meaningfully and enrich lives through music. Bev Foster admits that, during the pandemic, the absence of music care in hospice or long-term care facilities was a real loss, but she is optimistic about the future.
The goals for the next year are to interact with even more people in these areas of music care and to hold their annual fundraiser – the star-studded Voices that Care – in person once again. As for the next decade, they want to keep growing and make musiccare CONNECT™ available in more English-speaking countries, as well as by implementing musiccare LEARN™ in colleges and universities when training future caregivers.
Working at the crossroads of the health care and music industries, Musiccare by Room 217 is providing joy and peace to those living with terminal illnesses and creating a new standard of living for those in palliative care.