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Back in the summer of 23: The first-ever care home album has been released

During the summer of 2023 residents from a care home in London became the first to participate in writing and recording an album.

Last week a new album, known as ‘Reflections’, which is made up of 12 original songs written and recorded by the community of Bupa’s The Highgate Care Home in North London, was released on Apple Music.

Thought to be the first of its kind, the majority of the album was made in a recording studio created out of a visitors’ booth at the home, which was built during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Phil Evans, a music therapist who led the project, said: ‘This album is more than just a collection of songs. It has become a place where our residents’ memories and experiences can be stored and revisited, rather than left to fade away.

‘It has also brought the whole community of the care home closer together. Over 100 residents, relatives and staff were involved in writing, performing, and recording – where the roles of who is caring and who is cared for become less important.

‘Instead, we’re just a group of people creating, singing, laughing, crying, together. And through it, I hope we have come out understanding each other a little better; that is ultimately what I hope the legacy of this album will be.’

People in care homes – residents and staff members – are often forgotten about, which has become seriously evident with how the government have been treating them since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the songs on this album are working to change this attitude.

An example of this is the song ‘Sing Together’, a track created by Phyllis Levy, who turned 90 this year and wanted to create a piece of music that explores the real meaning of care.

According to Phil, all of the songs on the album reflect many lifetimes of experiences and wisdom; memories, regrets, lessons to pass on and insights on life in a care home. He even goes on to say that the album doesn’t stick to a particular genre, as some songs resemble opera and others sound like reggae.

One of the reasons for including such a wide mix was to show off the fact that everyone in a care home is different.

NAPA, the UK’s body for overseeing arts in care homes, described the project as: ‘Truly wonderful and moving.’

They added: ‘Lots of tissues are needed during some of the amazing songs, [but it represents] a fantastic creative community with residents, staff, relatives, friends, musicians and local community groups all joining together to create songs about life, love and identity.’

Images: Phil Levy

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