Music in Hospitals and Care

MIHC Scotland tell us about the changes they have embarked upon to bring their organisation’s systems & processes up to date.

Important: Opinions expressed by Digital Pioneer interviewees are their own and don’t represent those of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.

Florence Burke, former Chief Executive for Scotland at Music in Hospitals and Care tells us more…

Tell us about Music in Hospitals and Care!

Florence: As an organisation Music in Hospitals & Care wants to reach as many people as we can so that they can access the benefits of live music. We have been in existence since 1948 and the Scotland office opened in 1980 providing us with the base to deliver even more concerts across mainland Scotland and the Islands. Research is now beginning to prove what we have always known, that being part of live music has an impact on our physical, mental and emotional well being.

That is why I often think that Music in Hospitals & Care is one of the best kept secrets in health and social care. Our audiences are some of the most vulnerable and frail individuals with our youngest audience member being a baby in a hospice and our oldest a 106 year old man in a care home.

In Scotland we deliver almost 1,700 concerts each year. Evaluations are carried out for each concert covering everything from socialisation, movement, communication and improved mood. We are rightly proud that in each of these categories we have over 90% of people benefiting from the concerts.

How have you been using digital?

Florence: Like many organisations, Music in Hospitals & Care had been using digital tools to manage our information and had a reasonably active website as well as Facebook and Twitter accounts despite juggling these between various staff members.

This had developed organically rather than being planned. Without the benefit of specialist staff or skills we had also become comfortable with what we used and worked our way around the bits that did not do what we wanted them to do. Time as well as knowledge was also a factor in being able to look to new approaches and improvements.

Tell us about a recent digital change you’ve made.

Florence: We had an office based server (sitting under a desk), poor broadband, systems and processes that had not been reviewed for a number of years and limited office space with no potential to move. The key opportunity was for us was to review the basics and build from there.

What motivated you?

Florence: It is really very important to us at Music in Hospitals & Care to appreciate why our live music can have such a profound effect and how we can make the experiences even better for the people who come to the concerts. There was increasing frustration and recognition on the part of the team that things were not working as well as they could and that there was scope for greater efficiencies.

How did you go about it?

Florence: Staff reviewed each of the processes and systems they used. This was presented at a series of team meetings in action learning sets. This was key in enabling the team to not only identify the issues they wanted to address but also opened their thinking around solutions using existing technology rather than assuming that we needed something bespoke.

Our first step was to move to G Suite and a cloud based server. This increased collaboration across the team and also meant that staff could work more agilely from different locations, putting less pressure on the office space. We were able to use it to improve engagement with our musicians in terms of checking their availability, confirming arrangements and making payments.

Since then we have moved to Sage drive and made changes to our on-line banking processes. All of which has served to avoid duplication of effort, improved our financial reporting and reduced the payments we were making for other services.

Who was involved?

Florence: Credit has to go to the staff for being willing to make the changes necessary. This did require training for some but because Google is so widely used in our private lives, the training was about maximising the potential offered by G Suite as opposed to the basics.

What’s been the impact?

Florence: We have 8 staff and 100 musicians working with us. All of them have benefitted at different levels from the changes we have made. Trustees are also beginning to see the benefits in terms of the reporting now made possible.

The move to G Suite has allowed for greater efficiencies and collaboration. It has also facilitated links with finance through Sage Drive, accessibility through our website and eased collaboration with colleagues in other offices.

Any challenges?

Florence: Initially the two biggest barriers were:

  • lack of awareness of and possibly confidence in knowing what would best meet our needs.
  • lack of resources staff skills, time and finances to do it.

Because staff had been involved in the process and come up with the solutions we were able to build much of the change in to their day to day work. This meant that things were phased over a longer period but also allowed for confidence to be built and peer support across the team members. A relatively small grant, enabled us to bring in specialists, where needed, to transfer our data and emails and provide us with training.

Any advice?

Florence: I think it is important not to get caught up / bogged down / scared by the language that still surrounds anything digital. As a team we constantly tried to pause momentarily and think about what it was we wanted to do and how what was it we already used in our day to day life or knew about that could be adapted for it.

The right external digital advisors with the skill to translate what they can do and the ability to understand how your organisation works, and the constraints and opportunities you face, are invaluable.

There are also more people than you think going through the same thing so do not be frightened to ask.

What’s on your digital horizon?

Florence: Our new website is now up and running and we are seeing an increase in on-line giving through this. Our plans are to now build on the site’s ability to make it easier for people to access our services.

We are also exploring the development of a CRM system. To improve our services we need to make better use of the information we currently hold on our databases. The CRM system will provide an opportunity to have ‘everything in the one place’.

There are also a couple of exciting projects underway where we are using digital tools with people in care homes and hospitals to improve the experience for them. It is early days for these but we are looking forward to building on the lessons learnt from them.

What’s digitally inspiring you at the moment?

Florence: My team inspire me every day – all of whom are no longer seeing digital as something additional to what they do but now it’s just a way of working.

Thanks to Florence from Music in Hospitals and Care for sharing how they’re using digital in the third sector. We hope that the digital tools mentioned and their approach have inspired your third sector organisation. Don’t forget to share it with your networks to keep the inspiration flowing and tell us what you think @digiscot using #digiscotpioneers.

If you’d like to help spread some more digital inspiration across the third sector then get in touch with us @digiscot and We’d love to hear from you and share it with our networks!

Page last modified on 2nd September 2019