Transforming Communities

Care home professionals explore the power of music with residents

Live Music Now shares professional music techniques with care home Activities Coordinators in a project to deliver accessible training to front line care employees

Activities Coordinators from 13 care homes run by The Orders of St John Care Trust (OSJCT) have taken part in professional CPD training in how to use music as part of their day-to-day care practice to support communication, connection and identity for older people living in care homes. The Live Music in Care training is the latest initiative in a long-standing partnership between the national music charity Live Music Now and OSJCT funded by Rayne Foundation, Jack Lane Charitable Trust and Rowlands Trust.

Two online training sessions focused on helping participants who work in care homes to understand the potential of music to engage older people and feel more confidence in using music and develop new skills and practices. It also focused on ways to ensure that care home residents are benefiting from music and how to design a session to encourage increased interaction from residents.

Sharon Dewsbury, Activities Coordinator at Paternoster House in Cirencester, who organises a varied programme for residents at the 40-bed care home, took part in the training. Since the training she has proactively distributed musical and percussion instruments to residents to join in music-making while listening to a singer or their regular pianist. Now more residents, including those with dementia, are using handheld instruments to join in with the music and express themselves.

One resident revealed a hidden talent, when she took to playing the piano. Now she regularly plays alongside the pianist who comes three times a week to the home to perform for residents.

Sharon said: “The training was great and now residents are using musical instruments more often. At Paternoster House we have several music and singing events each month.

“It’s clear through their interactions that residents enjoy music, and their participation often leads to reminiscence conversations where we get to learn more about their memories, preferences and feelings.”

Another participant in the training was Kelly Coffin, Activities Coordinator at Watersmead, in Westbury. She said:

“We’ve introduced new techniques learned during the training into our music therapy sessions. One morning we used a background ‘soundscape’ to help residents to create a vision in their minds, such as the seaside. They then used various instruments to add to the background music. Everyone was having fun and there was lots of laughter.”

This training is part of Live Music Now’s Live Music In Care programme, to develop the musical care confidence, skills and capacity of care professionals, a focus of their work in adult social care since 2016. Live Music Now led the Live Music In Care Study with OSJCT, MHA and the University of Winchester published in 2018. Live Music Now also provided evidence to the Power Of Music Report (April 2022) from UK Music and Music for Dementia. One of the report’s headline recommendations is to:

Support frontline workers by providing better training on the role of music in health and care – in particular by establishing an accessible training module to help practitioners understand how best to use music as part of the care they provide in their work setting.

Helen Bayliss, OSJCT Regional Director for Gloucestershire, said: “The partnership with Live Music Now is fantastic for our homes and our residents. The training, live and online concerts and resources have given our Activities Coordinators a professional approach to organising music as a meaningful activity. This can be especially important for residents with dementia who may have limited ways of communication and expression, but where music can be an accessible channel for them to connect in many ways, with their fellow residents, care teams and their own thoughts and memories.”

Douglas Noble, Strategic Director at Live Music Now said: “We are delighted to be further developing our valued partnership with OSJCT and the people who live and work in their care settings. Evidence shows us that access to music is an essential part of living later life well. We find that partnership working results in additional benefits and positive changes that would be much harder to achieve working as separate organisations.”

The partnership between OSJCT and Live Music Now will continue with forthcoming music residencies at Paternoster House and Millbrook Lodge starting in June.

If you’re interested in organising a Live Music in Care training session for your care home, please contact [email protected]


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