Transforming Communities

Understanding the impact of music interventions on dementia care in an acute hospital setting – Professor Norma Daykin and Mr David Walters


Live Music Now at the Royal Society of Medicine – 16 November 2015

Professor Norma Daykin, Professor of Arts and Wellbeing, University of Winchester, UK; and
Mr David Walters, Head of Centre for Arts as Wellbeing, University of Winchester, UK.

Emerging evidence supports the use of music in dementia care, with a recent randomised trial showing long-term cognitive, emotional and social benefits of music and singing for people with mild/moderate dementia. In this presentation, Professor Dayking and Mr Walters reported a study of the impact of a music project for dementia patients in an acute hospital setting. The project used interactive music making, on the ward and at the bedside, to support the wellbeing of patients, carers and staff, and to enhance the general ward environment. A professional viola player from a regional symphony used creative music making techniques including singing, playing, listening and improvisation to engage participants and encourage interaction between patients, staff and carers.

Interviews, focus groups, participant observation and assessment of ward level data, including incidences of challenging behaviour and staff absence were used to assess the impact of the project and explore participants’ experiences. They reported initial insights from the research and discussed the learning from the extended process of collaboration between a NHS Trust, a University and arts organisations that led to this innovative project. They drew out implications for the development and evaluation of effective arts and music interventions for patients and carers in dementia care.

Professor Norma Daykin  – Biography 

Norma Daykin is a Social Scientist based at the University of Winchester in the Centre for Arts as Wellbeing. Her research focus is on arts, health and wellbeing and she has a particular interest in music. Her research and publications have examined performing and visual arts with people of all ages and in diverse settings including: primary care, hospital, community and justice settings. Professor Daykin is a Co-researcher on the What Works Centre for Wellbeing Culture and Sport evidence programme. She also works with practitioners to help them better evaluate their arts for health work, and has led a series of knowledge exchange projects including the Creative and Credible Project. Norma is Executive Co-editor of Arts and Health: An International Journal for Research, Policy and Practice.

Mr David Walters – Biography 

In 2011, Mr David Walters was awarded an Honorary Research and Knowledge Exchange Fellowship at the University of Winchester. He was subsequently appointed Senior Research Officer and Head of the Centre for Arts as Wellbeing, establishing a number of research and evaluation projects in health and wellbeing in hospitals and social care settings. David is the Director of the Music Research Trust, an “institute without walls” that has supported and funded numerous projects and research in the area of music and wellbeing, including the Singing for Wellbeing project in Winchester. The institute has an archive of research papers and journals. In 1995 he set up the Coda Music Trust on the Dorset/Hampshire border – a community music centre based in a Victorian home farm – providing music making and music therapy opportunities for all ages and abilities. He has a background as a professional singer, songwriter and guitarist and has worked as vocal producer and coach.


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