Koivisto, Taru: But I cannot sing. I have turned 80 years and I am sick.” Exploring healthcare musicians’ work in an eldercare hospital

Due to 21st-century societal developments, hospitals and other care environments are in many countries being (re)defined as cultural spaces in which the health and wellbeing of the patients, their families and hospital personnel should be supported with the arts. However, many modern healthcare environments are primarily dedicated to medical recovery from somatic diseases, addressing these diseases solely in a bodily way. In this paper, I will present a study in which I explored the interprofessional work of healthcare musicians in the orthopaedic and infectious disease wards of an eldercare hospital, and I will frame my presentation especially within the end-of-life contexts. An eldercare hospital and a collaborating music institution offered interesting organisational and institutional frameworks for this research. I used a thematic and reflexive qualitative approach to reveal the symbolic and emotional musical stories of the research participants. These stories opened valuable windows to analyse ‘organisational lore’, the traditional beliefs, myths and customs of individuals and a community. This analysis built up a rich picture of professional practices, narratives and counter-narratives that healthcare musicians may face when occupying cross-sectoral, interprofessional work. In conclusion, I critically reflect on some of the challenges and possibilities of socially responsible and cross-sectoral art and music work, as well as the investments that should be made in arts practitioners’ professional capital to effectively support and acknowledge their work.