Life Echo

John Taylor Hospice has joined forces with sound artist Justin Wiggan to produce Life Echo – a personalised sound memory map which has seen a host of positive results for participants.

Since 2013 Justin has been working with hospice patients at John Taylor, creating their Life Echoes. Through a series of one-to-one sessions and the completion of a written life map with patients and carers, participants are encouraged to share positive memories which can be triggered by sounds.

Justin then makes a Life Echo, an individual recording featuring these sounds. Each participant can then recall memories triggered by these sounds from the past just at the click of a button.

Patients at the hospice have focussed on a range of sounds from their childhoods, early working careers, families and even holidays. Many have reported that the Life Echo process has helped with long-term memory retention as well as creating a sense of well-being.

John Taylor Day Hospice visitor Mikey Styles has been working with Justin on his Life Echo. “It has been fun and interesting to recall old memories from past times and to listen to sounds from the past,” says Mikey.

Patients at John Taylor Hospice create their Life Echoes.

A study by Leicester University found a range of positive effects resulting from participation in Life Echo: 

  • Sparked a curiosity in the participants
  • Participants appreciated and recognised a value in their memories
  • Generated a high level of engagement, where the participants were visibly animated as well as visibly absorbed particularly when listening back to the soundtracks or their drafted Life Echoes
  • Increased enjoyment and socialisation in the participants through actively participating and working with others.
  • Helped participants gain confidence and supported them in returning to activities they would have previously done and potentially can still do but had avoided since becoming ill

“Life Echo has really helped patients at John Taylor Hospice recall memories which they thought they had lost,” says Justin. “But it not only works as a memory aid, it also promotes well-being, socialisation and confidence.

From this work we have now looked at ways of developing and adapting Life Echo so that it can support people in a range of different settings including schools, emergency services and charities supporting people with difficulties including homelessness, dementia and end of life conditions.

John Taylor Hospice day hospice visitor Mikey Styles with Justin Wiggan and Life Echo

With the support of John Taylor Hospice, Justin has developed Life Echo in new directions and worked with other organisations.

SIFA Fireside used Life Echo as a focus and motivational tool and to aid understanding of new clients accessing its service. Using a Life Anchor project, clients were looking not just at past experiences but also future goals.

“I just want to say your project is amazing. With your project you get to know more about the clients, it’s a trip down memory lane for clients where we talk about positive memories. It makes them think and they remember happy times, lots of smiles were in that session and laughter. I hope more organizations gets involve in such a brilliant project.” SIFA Fireside staff member.

To see the SIFA film click here.

At BUDS dementia group in Rowley Regis, participants who had early onset to moderate dementia shared their sound memories and stories and produced Life Echoes. Staff reported that following sessions participants were more energised and focussed and more able to recall stories from their lives.

Spark was a dual project bringing together Cotteridge School in Birmingham and the TEA Project in Sri Lanka. In both cases the schools replaced morning and afternoon registration with children choosing meaningful happy sounds which were played instead of their names being read out. Cotteridge School reported seeing a positive impact on the children’s behaviour and mood and The TEA Project reported it had enhanced children’s well-being and reduced anxiety.

“We really noticed a difference in the children’s attitude and a difference in some children in terms of behaviour. They felt more positive. It has been a fantastic experience to be part of.” Cotteridge School staff member.

“Spark sessions give children confidence and they visibly enjoy the experience. They welcome the opportunity to express themselves.” TEA Project staff member.

To watch the spark film click here.

At Crisis, clients who were homeless made their Life Echoes as part of a training process where they also learned software, sound recording and composition skills.

At West Midlands Fire Service, Life Echo was used in electric toothbrushes – with the result that participants were found to brush their teeth for longer, improve dental hygiene and reduce stress levels.

“The Life Echo event and film are an incredibly powerful example into how an artist can create work which sensitively and collaboratively support the well-being of fire fighters and others facing trauma as part of the day to day work. This is a fascinating insight as to how sound and memory can be combined creatively to help with creative safe internal and external spaces such as with White Watch.” Creative consultant to the project.

Click here to see the WMFS film.

In 2016 BOM (Birmingham Open Media) held a Life Echo exhibition which offered people the chance to experience some of the recordings. Click here for more information. 

John Taylor Hospice and sound artist Justin Wiggan exhibit at BOM in Birmingham.

The exhibition was covered by BBC Midlands Today which you can watch here. 

If you would like to know more about how your organisation can use Life Echo to support the people you work email Justin at

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