Musicians in Residence Programme
Current population projections suggest that the number of people aged 85 and over will more than double between 2008 and 2033 to reach 3.3 million and that at least a third of that number will be living with dementia. How best to support our ageing population is one of the most important health and social care challenges that we face today.
The Department of Health and devolved governments of the UK have created new strategies for providing care and support for people with dementia and their families. A key strand is the theme of improving quality of life for those living with dementia by lessening the use of anti psychotic drugs and increasing meaningful activity. As this becomes an urgent challenge for society it is critical that innovative, cost effective, non-pharmacological ways of improving the quality of life for this group are found.
It is generally acknowledged that around 70% of people in care homes are living with some level of dementia, even if it is undiagnosed. Our experience of the benefits of delivering high quality music sessions in care homes over the years has led us to develop the following model.
LMN's Musicians in Residence programme involves regular visits from the same group of LMN musicians over several months. Before the visits start the musicians hold a session for care staff covering the following topics:
demonstrating the value of using music in this setting and showing how it is possible for the music sessions to be a tool to increase staff knowledge of those in their care, providing enhanced opportunities for person-centred care. This would be achieved through experiencing for themselves the enjoyment and growing confidence achieved by taking part in a session.
showing how care staff can best support the musicians and facilitation of the music sessions.
building relationships between the musicians and care staff .
During initial sessions LMN musicians work at establishing relationships and building trust with the group through discussion, reminiscence and music. Participants are encouraged to use memories, stories, songs and percussion activities as a way of maximising involvement in the sessions. Through the skill and sensitive interventions of LMN musicians, in immediate response to participants, the sessions develop from being performance and repertoire based into responsive, creative workshops with a focus on singing. As the weeks progress, communication grows, reminiscences and pleasure in the music emerge and musical preferences come to the fore. Our musicians are happy to create group and individualised 'playlists' to be used after the project has finished.
Those who have taken part in LMN sessions tell us that they feel happier, more stimulated and less lonely. We believe that this improvement in individuals' wellbeing and staff and residents' communication results in positively influencing the 'culture' of the care home.
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