Mudcat Café message #756804 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #49818   Message #756804
Posted By: Genie
30-Jul-02 - 04:47 AM
Thread Name: Getting nursing home gigs
Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
Rita, most nursing homes don't have a lot of folks with infectuous diseases--any more than a school or church does.  Folks are there to recover from broken hips, etc., or to be supervised by RNs in their daily activities because they need vital signs monitored (e.g., for diabetes, high blood pressure) and/or  supervision due to memory loss or other dementia.  When residents do catch a communicable disease like the flu, they tend to stay in their rooms while they recuperate.  Sometimes, though, "the flu" will kind of sweep through the home--as it might in a school; when this happens, they usually cancel entertainment programs.

I'd suggest addressing these, quite natural, concerns of yours with the folks who are thinking of hiring you.  They'll know how likely this is to be a problem at their particular faciltiy.  You may want to steer away from the Alzheimer's units, though, since folks with great cognitive impairment are often far less hygenic in their behavior than higher functioning residents are.  (Some of them, in fact, are likely to hug or kiss you or touch you in other unanticipated ways, which could be a problem when you have a compromised immune system.)  On the other hand, if you play for assisted living or independent living facilities, there would probably be no problem.  These folks are, for the most part, just old.

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Re charging some kinds of organizations/facilities and not others:  Yes, I think you can do this.  But I would base the decision on whether the org. usually pays for entertainment or not, and on the other perks you may get for singing there.  For instance, a lot of senior centers really don't have a budget for entertainment (except a small amount for holiday programs).  They tend to be more like co-ops than for-profit businesses, and the seniors who frequent them often provide the entertainment themselves.  On the other hand, they can be great places to network and drum up other business--and maybe sell CDs.

In my experience, the various Jewish organizations and the Masonic lodges, etc., not only pay for entertainment, they pay a higher hourly rate than most nursing homes do.  There again, though, you might sell CDs and drum up clients for private parties, etc., by doing a volunteer program.

You still may encounter expectations of your being "a volunteer musician," though, if the staff of a nursing home know that you perform free for the local B'nai Brith or Masonic lodge.  I'd recommend asking for some sort of honorarium for all of them, even if it's not a huge amount, if you want to establish yourself as a professional musician.

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Marion, I took Ted's comment about the kitchen staff as relating to what I had said (early in the thread) about a kitchen staffer giving me grief about wanting to get the temperature down below 80 degrees.  Maybe he was referring to the staffer who played your violin.  Or maybe both.

What your mother describes is very much the kind of approach that I think especially merits being paid by the nursing home--especially if she puts together her own songbooks (which can take a lot of time).  She is providing the facility and its residents a program specifically geared to their needs--exactly what the state agencies say nursing homes need to provide.  This is quite different from  a performer just taking out a couple of hours to drop in and do one of their routine sets for the group with no attempt to accommodate the residents' tastes, requests, etc.  (The latter can be quite entertaining, but the home can also put on an audio or video tape if they just want to hear really good music.  You don't get the interaction with the residents and the group participation from that, though.)

And, yes, I do find it "funny" -- and quite telling -- that a facility would hire musicians to entertain their staff but use only volunteers to provide entertainment and music therapy to their residents (who, in one way or another, pay the bills!).

Genie