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.
A study by Leicester University found a range of positive effects resulting from participation in Life Echo:
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you would like to know more about how your organisation can use Life Echo to support the people you work email Justin at firstname.lastname@example.org