We all know what music brings to us whether it be at home, a party or a concert etc. Music can transport us all, evoke our emotions, join us together, be a comfort and allow us to express ourselves. The benefits go on and on but for people living with Dementia music can offer so much more.
Music can help people reconnect with a loss of identity, stimulate the healthy part of the brain which in turn can improve confidence and reduce feelings of frustration. Most importantly it can trigger happiness and can offer a communication channel which in so many cases has been lost.
At Vida Healthcare we constantly use music in our homes and with introduction of “smart speakers” a whole world of music is now at our finger tips. Its important for us to encourage families to share musical memories with us so we create personal playlists for families and I’m delighted to hear of the “Music for Dementia 2020” campaign which is promoting this nationwide goal to bring music into the lives of people living with Dementia.
We held a recent managers conference here at Vida and one of the most powerful parts was a video called “Alive Inside” which has received 2.8 million views since its release. Henry has been in a care home for 10 years and had become depressed and withdrawn yet when a playlist was created and he was given an Ipod he immediately comes alive and animated, singing along and engaging with those around him.
Importantly, once the music stops the effects don’t – Henry engages in conversation having been primarily silent. He remembers names, lyrics, his favourite song which he then proceeds to sing. It’s a beautiful moment and he has re- acquired his identity for a while.
When asked about music Henry says:
“It gives me the feeling of love and romance. I figure right now the world needs to come into music, singing, you’ve got beautiful music here. Beautiful, lovely, I feel a band of love of dreams. The Lord came to me made me Holy, I’m a Holy man, so He gave me these sounds.”
As an Outstanding provider, and a founding Member of The Outstanding Society we continually debate how we can improve and develop our services and often I think we over complicate the process. If a single song can change a person’s world then the opportunities for Music in all areas of care should be promoted.
At Vida Healthcare we employ a Creative Practice Manager (Theresa McNally) who focuses on positive interventions using music among other art forms. We are now seeing the benefits of this on a daily basis whether it be in group events or one to one experiences.
Theresa began her career with Vida as a Mental Health Nurse but we soon recognised her talents and have created this unique role in order for her to focus on offering residents art based therapy.
“Music is an area where we all have a deeply personal experience. Music, singing and making music together can have many positive effects at any time but especially when someone is living with Dementia. It can improve quality of life through encouraging social relationships, through re-creating or improvisation of music and songs. It can improve cognitive function and motor skills when playing instruments. It also supports creativity and its fun. Music can also be a soothing practice when someone is at the end of their life” (Theresa McNally)