North Shore Hospital using music to bring Christmas cheer to patients spending holidays in wards

When you think of Christmas a hospital is hopefully the last thing that comes to mind.

But for thousands of Kiwis that's not the case -  they're having to spend the holiday period in the wards.

Now one New Zealand hospital has come up with a simple way to not only spread the festive cheer but also help patients heal.

Seventy-two-year-old Maureen Jennings is a bit of a Christmas dancing queen. She also happens to be a patient in North Shore Hospital - but that's not stopping her getting into the spirit.

Jennings is loving the live carols that have been echoing through the corridors all month after staff put a piano in the foyer. 

They called for piano players to bring joy to those stuck in hospital for the holidays - and were overwhelmed with volunteers.

On Christmas Eve it's 15-year-old Hana Tani making patients feel a little better - something she says she's honoured to do.

"I feel like there's a lot of nervous tension and atmosphere in the hospital and I feel like music can fill in the silence and tension and change up the mood."

Hospital staff say music can be a medicine of the mind.

Waitemata DHB Associate Chief Medical Officer Dr Andrew Old says there's lots of evidence music can have health benefits. 

"It's been shown to improve mood, lower stress, reduce heart rate, reduce blood pressure and just generally make people feel better."

Then there's Matt Irving - occupational therapist by day and Santa's musical elf at night.

Irving brings his patients down to enjoy the sounds and says it really helps.

"A lot of our patients can be stuck in the same bed on the same ward for sometimes weeks, sometimes months, so having the opportunity to come down to listen to some music is amazing."

Christmas is Irving's day off but he's coming into hospital dressed as Santa to take his guitar around the wards - making the big day special for those who are unwell.

Because he and the team know that sometimes it's the small things that can make a big difference.