Francesca on song with a noteworthy initiative
Carinity aged care staff always endeavour to bring a smile to the face of the seniors they care for and support – often in ways beyond their job description.
Francesca Ruxton had not picked up her saxophone for 25 years but decided to resume playing the instrument to entertain and bring joy to residents of the Carinity Brookfield Green aged care community.
Each week the Diversional Therapist performs “whatever the residents want to hear”, playing along to musical backing tracks she makes herself.
“I try to play music that is especially relevant to the residents and often ask for their favourite songs so that I can go away and learn them, create a track and then return and play it for them,” Francesca says.
“Residents will tell me of songs that were played at their weddings, when they first met their future husbands/wives or at any time from their childhood. These songs encapsulate very important memories.
“I absolutely love seeing the reactions of residents to the music I perform. It can range from smiles and foot tapping to closed eyes and tears rolling down their cheeks.”
Francesca performs “almost anything”, from jazz standards, classical, country and Celtic tunes, to rock ‘n’ roll, bossa nova, hymns and Christmas music.
“Some of the residents’ favourites are Que Sera Sera, Moon River, Tennessee Waltz and anything by Irving Berlin,” Francesca says.
“They are very open to listening to new songs that I introduce to them such as songs by The Beatles, The Eagles and Elton John.”
Francesca says the therapeutic benefits of music are enormous.
“Some residents with advanced dementia will sing entire songs word for word yet be unable to hold a conversation with anyone. The look of happiness on their faces is so rewarding,” she says.
“I need an audience and they are the best audience in the world.”
A multi-talented musician who has also played instruments such as oboe, recorder and bass guitar, Francesca has been bringing music to Carinity Brookfield Green residents for more than a decade.
She started a small recorder group teaching music as a volunteer after her mother moved into the aged care community 14 years ago, then trained to be a Diversional Therapist.
“I love to bring joy to the residents. They are such a remarkable group of people and working with them is inspiring and so rewarding,” Francesca says.