It’s another way the ingenuity and skills of staff are directly benefiting clients.

David Broda is a social worker in the at the Irene and Leslie Dubé Centre for Mental Health who was able to create a music room for residents at the centre, thanks to some specialized training called “5S” that he took this summer.

5S is a Lean method that encourages the reclaiming of underutilized space by using the system of “sort, simplify, sweep, standardize and self-discipline.”

David Broda in the music room

David Broda, a social worker at the Irene and Leslie Dubé Centre for Mental Health, took an underutilized space and turned it into a music room for residents.

Before this training came about, Broda and the rest of the staff on the Child and Adolescent Unit at the Dubé Centre had already identified some underutilized spaces on their unit, so when he was asked to find a space to apply his 5S training to, he knew exactly which room he wanted.

“5S is all about eliminating waste and reorganization and this room was one of the most underutilized on our unit,” Broda said as he stood in the new music room. “There was a big conference table in this room, and a piano, and that was about it. It really didn’t have a purpose.”

Inspired by the presence of the piano and his own interest in music, Broda turned the space into somewhere residents can both listen to music and make their own.

“Many of our children and youth are musically inclined,” he noted. “Some were coming in here anyway to use the piano and the one guitar we had. But through using 5S, we were able to make the room more inviting, and officially label it a music room, so more kids and families can enjoy it.”

Through the 5S process, everything in the space is examined and evaluated based on its purpose in the space. Broda listed everything that was in the room, tagged items like the big conference table for removal, and created a vision as to what would make the room more purposeful. Then he took a small budget given to him by his manager and went out to acquire more musical instruments.

Broda had certain requirements for instruments that shortened the list of possibilities – they had to be therapeutic, easy to pick up, but couldn’t be too loud.

“The room isn’t soundproofed, and there are usually meetings happening all around it, so we couldn’t get anything electrical,” he smiled.

But he was able to find instruments that fit all of his requirements, thanks to some help from the music community in Saskatoon.

“I play a bit of guitar myself, so I had spent some time at Long and McQuaid in Saskatoon. With my small budget, I bought some ukuleles, music books and sheet music, and when the manager of the store heard what I was up to, he donated a few things, including Peruvian box drum called a cojan, which you sit on to play,” Broda stated.

With the purchase of some bean bag chairs which are something the kids love and have the added bonus of being easy to clean, the room was nearly complete. But one family and some of the patients thought it needed something more. So they added a mural.

“The family of one of our residents is very musical, and they came in and drew the outline of the mural, and some of our patients painted it in,” Broda said.

Mural, beanbag chairs, ukeleles

A mural, instruments and bean bag chairs make it clear what this room is all about now.

The room has seen a complete turnaround since the transformation. The first day after it was reopened, there were several patients in it all day long. Now it’s used just about every day, and by several patients at a time. Not surprisingly, it’s mostly the teens who are using the room – those between the ages of 12 and 17.

“A lot of our patients play musical instruments, primarily the 15 to 17 years olds,” Broda noted. “They’ve come in and picked up the drum, the piano, the guitar, the ukulele, so it’s been really good. One of our youth care workers plays and has been able to give lessons on the ukelele, and some of the kids who play by ear have been in to learn more theory from some of the resources we have in here. It’s been really great.”

Besides acting as a downtime space, the room can also host small group therapy sessions.

“We can talk and play music, or listen to music during therapy sessions. We know music can be very therapeutic. Music plays a part in the way we process things, and helps us relax so our brain can work a bit better,” Broda said.

Broda was a little surprised by how popular the room has turned out to be.

“I wasn’t sure if the patients would be excited about it, or if the unit would miss the conference desk. It’s been a pleasant surprise, how it’s all turned out.”

It’s also created a domino effect on the unit.

“We had been looking at three to five spaces that were underutilized,” Broda said. “When I started to organize this space, some of the youth care workers started organizing a room across the hall. It’s completely different now.”

What had been a catch-all space is now a wellness room that includes exercise equipment like a treadmill and yoga mats, along with books and articles on health and wellness.

Broda will now be coming up with strategies to keep the music room in order to ensure it remains functional and keeps to its purpose, and again he’ll be using Lean tools to do it.

“If not for these Lean tools, the transformation of this room wouldn’t have happened this quickly or this well,” he said. “But for little to no money, we’ve given this room a new purpose for patients.”