Chelsea Mackinnon organizing 2019 Music Care Conference

by Deb Bartlett

This is one story in a series of posts that introduce some key players at Room 217. We’ll be introducing you to board members, supporters, and staff members, and letting you know their role at the Foundation.

Chelsea Mackinnon is always on the run – literally and figuratively. She belongs to a running club and her colleagues see her regularly completing 10-kilometre runs when she’s at the office. But she also is on the run in her capacity as a sessional instructor at McMaster University, and as Room 217’s Education and Research Manager. Her double role has led to a relationship with McMaster students that is enriching their university experience with practical work with Room 217. The upper year students in Chelsea’s class work on music care research projects. 

A large part of Chelsea’s role is running the Music Care Partners program, which has been made possible through an Ontario Trillium Foundation Grow grant. Twenty-four long-term care homes in Toronto, Kitchener/Waterloo, and Hamilton are involved in this project to see if a team music care initiative can reduce isolation and loneliness. You can read more about Partners in Chelsea’s blog post. In addition to Partners, Chelsea oversees our education programs, which include Music Care Training, music care webinars, the content for the annual Music Care Conference, and the soon-to-be-launched Virtual Learning Studio, which in an online format will take a deeper look at issues facing healthcare professionals.

“One of Room 217’s core values is creating evidence-informed tools and programs for our end users. This is where our research program comes in! On the research side of things, my job is to oversee any investigations that we initiate here at Room 217, and to form research partnerships with others in the field who have similar research questions and goals,” she says.

The last of her responsibilities involves knowledge translation. “I work to share our research findings and information about our programs with caregivers, researchers, and others working in the field of music and health,” says Chelsea. “Room 217 is rooted in community, which means it is a priority to us to share best-practices and new research information with care communities so that the information can inform their own practice.”

Education is how Chelsea came to know Room 217 in the first place. Chelsea was a graduate student at University of Toronto when Bev was a guest lecturer. “I was so captivated by her presentation, the Room 217 story, and what Bev and the Room 217 team had already accomplished. Bev and I connected after that class, and we have stayed connected ever since!” says Chelsea.

What she likes about Room 217 is that it’s inclusive. “Room 217 is unique in that it invites everyone to see music as a care tool. Room 217 recognizes that with a little bit of information and training, anyone can use music to enhance their own lives, as well as the lives of people they care for.”

Because of the allure of music and the brain, “I get to explore this fascination every day at work, in addition to seeing first-hand the impact that music can have in different care communities,” Chelsea says.

Personally, she’s played music her whole life. Her main instrument is the piano, and she also now likes to sing.

Chelsea completed her undergraduate degree at McMaster University in the Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHSc) program, her Masters in Music and Health Sciences at the University of Toronto, and her Masters in Management, Innovations and Entrepreneurship at Queen’s University. She is also a sessional instructor at McMaster in the BHSc program, where she teaches about music and community/music and the brain.

She feels she brings positivity, organization/knowledge translation skills, new ideas, and energy to Room 217. “I try to carry these four attributes into every space I go,” she says.

In addition to all she does for Room 217, she’s also a member of Room 217’s Speakers’ Bureau. If your organization is seeking a keynote presenter, workshop content, or training days for staff, Chelsea’s expertise in music and health and passion for people deserve consideration.