June 9, 2021

Student’s music soothes seniors during pandemic

Nursing student Cynthia Wang organized piano concerts for Tudor Manor residents to raise spirits and improve overall well-being
Wang playing piano at Tudor Manor for residents
Cynthia Wang plays piano at Tudor Manor for residents.

COVID-19 restrictions have had a negative impact on the mental well-being of many seniors’ care home residents. A nursing student assigned a practicum at one such residence combined her passions for health care and music to try and help.

Cynthia Wang has been playing piano since the age of five and is certified as an Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Music. A student in the Bachelor of Nursing program, Wang completed her second-year practicum focusing on older adults in long-term care at the Tudor Manor supportive living facility in Okotoks.

Nursing students typically aid residents with assisted living, but Wang felt inspired to take her experience one step further after noticing signs of diminished mental well-being in residents due to restrictions put in place following a COVID-19 outbreak. After the virus was brought into the facility by visitors, residents were asked to isolate. Throughout the isolation period, Wang saw that residents began to show signs of decreasing mental health, such as agitation, wandering and forgetfulness.

“They needed something to boost their mental health and feel the fulfilment of life again,” says Wang.

During one of her break periods, Wang took the initiative to play music for residents and staff. The response was overwhelmingly positive, bringing light to those who needed it most. “Two of the staff members came up to me afterwards and told me that they saw some of the residents in tears after the concert," says Wang. “Some of them got up out of their chairs to dance.”

Wang sitting at piano at Tudor Manor

Wang sits at piano at Tudor Manor.

Wang’s goal was to provide positive mental stimulation for residents, taking advantage of her prior experience and interest in music and art therapy. Wang is passionate about being able to touch those around her and enjoys performing for small groups in hospitals and care homes the most.

“The best part is fulfilling residents and increasing their self-confidence,” says Wang.

Tudor Manor’s recreational therapist recognized the value in Wang’s performance and added piano concerts to the residents’ weekly schedule as an organized activity.

Outside of her academic career, Wang teaches piano part-time. In trying to help her students build their connection to music and channel their passion for music in positive ways, Wang encourages her students to connect with their community through small performances for those in need.

“I enjoy music because of its ability to express emotions in a way that can’t be done with words, and my goal is to inspire the next generation of students to perform music to make positive impacts,” says Wang.

Wang’s concerts at Tudor Manor have given her the opportunity to connect her musical interests to her professional goals. Following graduation, she hopes to pursue her health-care career in palliative care and continue to fuse her passions by providing music therapy.

“When I begin my health-care career, I want to do more work like this,” she says.