‘Reflections’ – thought to be the first album of songs written and recorded entirely by a care home community – is released and available on Apple Music and streaming services.

Reflections is a collection of 12 original songs written and recorded over the summer of 2023 by the community of Bupa’s The Highgate Care Home in North London. The finished album features over 100 residents, carers, relatives and friends; and much of it was made in a recording studio created out of a visitors’ booth built during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The songs reflect many lifetimes of experiences and wisdom; memories, regrets, lessons to pass on and insights on life in a care home. Some are deeply poignant, others very funny! From opera to reggae, swing to soul, Irish drinking song to Jewish-inspired ballad; the huge variety of musical genres mirror the incredible diversity of backgrounds, and musical tastes at the care home.

Videos and sleeve artwork have already been created alongside some of the songs, and initial response to the album since its launch party at the end of September has been incredible:

NAPA, the UK’s body overseeing Arts in Care Homes described the project as; “Truly wonderful, inspiring and moving… lots of tissues needed during some of the amazing songs! What a fantastic creative community with residents, staff, relatives, friends, musicians and local community groups all joining together to create songs about life, love and identity.”

The project has had a significant positive impact on the lives and wellbeing of many residents and their relatives. For example, Phyllis Levy, a resident at The Highgate, who turned 90 earlier this year wrote the lyrics to Sing Together, a song exploring the real meaning of ‘care’. 

Phyllis said; “Who’d have thought at the age of 90 I’d write my first song! This project has given me new life. And it’s kept me up in the middle of the night for hours thinking of words! It brings us together. It’s magical. I’m so proud of everyone for what we have achieved!”

Theresa Freeman, Phyllis‘s daughter said; “Through this album, Mum has been on a magical journey encouraging her to sing, play and talk about her past and her achievements. It fills us with joy seeing her being brought out of her shell into who she is now.”

Music therapist, Phil Evans said:

“This album is more than just a collection of songs. It has become a place where our residents’ memories and experiences can be stored and revisited, rather than left to fade away.

It has also brought the whole community of the care home closer together. Over 100 residents, relatives and staff were involved in writing, performing and recording – where the roles of who is caring and who is cared for become less important. Instead, we’re just a group of people creating, singing, laughing, crying, together. And through it, I hope we have come out understanding each other a little better; that is ultimately what I hope the legacy of this album will be.

Not only that, we’ve unearthed a depth of talent and creativity through the project that we will continue to develop in the home going forward. We’ve already had people who couldn’t be involved in this album coming to us with song ideas for the follow-up album!’

Fieona Connolly, Deputy Manager at Bupa’s The Highgate Care Home, said:

This album is the culmination of a four-month project we called ‘Colour Your Life with Music’ which involved everything from starting a choir at the home to creating a series of special musical events for residents.

What started as a project has become part of daily life, with our residents, their families and our team having thoroughly enjoyed taking part in every aspect of it. We could not be prouder of their phenomenal work, the songs they have created and the bonds they have made. We extend our heartfelt thanks to Phil who has worked as music therapist at our home for the past 12 years, for his time and work on this album. It is testament to the instrumental part he plays in keeping our residents’ passion for music alive, for which we are very grateful.”

The launch of the album online will feature a special video created for one song, filmed at the home.  ‘Sing Together’ was written by resident Phyllis Levy and features over 35 soloists, each singing a line, before ending in a mass We Are The World style outro sing-along – ‘Life feels better when you sing with me!’