How it helps
Music sessions facilitate joy, laughter (and sometimes tears!), create an outlet for emotion, encourage a conversation, foster a connection with others and the environment, (even in more advanced dementia), encourage engagement with open eyes, smiling, stimulate speech, maintain physical co-ordination, strength and independence.
The sessions create pride in personal achievement, whether by singing, recovering a sense of identity, respect, autonomy, remembering words, dancing, recovering a memory, maintaining balance while standing up with support. The sessions create a deeper sense of connection between loved ones and their families and the opportunity to share a moment of joy together.
One gentlemen who used to waltz, loved to teach staff how to ‘do it properly’ giving him a sense of agency and pride. One lady, who hadn’t been heard to speak for four years, after only a few music sessions, formed meaningful sentences and engaged in a short conversation with eye contact and curiosity.
The group music sessions bring smiles and tears of joy to husbands, wives, children and relatives who are overjoyed to see their loved one enjoying themselves and engaging with the world around them. It is a kind of magic!
They have said they are so glad their relative has the chance to have this available to them.
All families are very warmly invited to join in with the group sessions. It creates a party atmosphere and fosters a closer bond between family members, often inspiring conversations about memories that were otherwise deeply buried.
Care staff morale and sector resilience
Although some may be shy at first at joining in, staff love to see their residents happy and having fun. Music sessions are also extremely valuable stress relief during a long day. When care staff join in with the songs, they have the opportunity to relax with the residents and a creating a deeper bond through a sense of play.
A musician can act as a facilitator with pinch-point areas within the home, or help with some tasks, such as improving co-operation walking to the dining room at mealtimes using songs, and can also help care staff develop a deeper connection with residents.
Examples from recent situations:
Familiar songs helped one resident to co-operate in moving from her chair to bed, without needing to use a hoist which saved the care team time and energy.
One gentleman was blocking a doorway and wouldn't move but his favourite song, The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond, encouraged him to look up smile, his body to relax, and he could move with ease. It saved time for the carers during the busy lunch period.
One lady was very agitated and angry but became calmer when her favourite song was sung gently to her.
Another resident was very stiff during personal care, but when she heard a song that was meaningful to her, Amazing Grace, she smiled, said thank you, and relaxed, which made the task go more swiftly and easily.
A resident who refused to eat was encouraged to have a whole bowl of soup and two cheese sandwiches while being sung Cheek to Cheek.
A lady who was in a diabetic stupor, gradually regained energy hearing Roll out the Barrel, and started to perform the actions with a giggle.
One man who refused to walk, became more positive and happy, after attending several music group sessions and started to walk again, which reduced the number of carers needed for his personal care from two to one on a regular basis.