Making Life Better with Music


Contest winners
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"Innovation Contest" winners at MIPCC

In Canada and other parts of the world, there is an increasing interest in the relationship between music, health, well-being and how music can be used in care contexts. This may be because music is an intricate part of the life passage and has tremendous healing capacity. Music makes life better.

One life passage where the depth and breadth of music is profound is at the end of life. It was in room 217, at a small hospital in Ontario, where Bev Foster said goodnight to her Dad for the last time. She and her family experienced music’s unique ability to accompany them through his end-of-life journey. In 2009, Bev and her husband Rob founded the Room 217 Foundation, a music-based social enterprise dedicated to care through music. Room 217 produces purposely-designed music products, education, training, and certification to improve quality of life and care.

As the Executive Director of Room 217 and a musician herself (trained in choral, music education, music composition, conducting, and piano), Bev Foster believes that “music has the capacity to bring people together and create lasting bonds. So in the context of human relationships of care, music becomes a valuable means of connection, communication and compassion.

The music care approach promotes the application of sound and music in formal healthcare settings and community or in home-based contexts to achieve positive healthcare outcomes. Music care is inclusive, offering a variety of delivery domains and a means for both intercultural and intergenerational connection. Music care can be implemented by all caregivers regardless of music ability. The intentional use of music humanizes care, deepens relationships, and enhances the care experience.

“Because music care is person-centred and relational, music care tools and strategies can be used by anyone. The results are about better care outcomes. These are some of the reasons that make music care a valuable approach for a healthcare system in need of prioritizing human connection and psychosocial opportunities.”

In the Room 217 approach, there are three pillars of music care: CONNECT, LEARN and CERTIFY.

musiccare CONNECT is a streaming app with over 700 purposely designed songs, videos, and activities for use in caregiving. Caregivers can customize music programs. There are four types of resources on the app (music collections for end of life; Pathways for dementia care; Recollections for reminiscence and relaxation; Conversation cards to catalyze engagement for care visits).

musiccare LEARN is a hub of learning programs and resources for deeper understanding and application of music for care. The LEARN hub aims to provide individuals and organizations with the key ingredients to strengthen caregiver confidence and improve the care experience. There are 8 core programs in the hub, including Music Care Training, Virtual Learning Studio and a Resource Library.

musiccare CERTIFY is the first recognition program in Canada for individuals and organizations who demonstrate excellence in music care delivery. It provides structured operational and educational frameworks to integrate music into all aspects of care. There are two types of certifications (organizational and individual), and more information can be found at

Recently, Room 217’s Music Collection for palliative and end-of-life care called Diverse Sounds was recognized as the 2022 Innovation of the Year at McGill’s International Palliative Care Congress in Montreal. The innovation was the process Room 217 used for creating the albums: LISTEN – CO-CREATE – SHARE, a replicable process for inter-cultural collaboration in healthcare settings.

Diverse Sounds is a collection of 6 one-hour musical albums designed for palliative care and to address the needs of newcomers to Canada. For each album, compositions were created after digging deep into the cultural meanings of soothing music, perceived instrumental healing sounds, music for the dying, and death and dying cultural rituals in 6 regions: South Asia, Mid-East, Eastern Asia, Africa, South America and Indigenous North America. The music was created in collaboration with more than 25 master musicians from the respective cultures represented on the albums.

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