Reduce Depression and Anxiety in People with Dementia through Music Therapy

National not for profit care home provider MHA (formerly known as the Methodist Home Association) has announced an investment of £1.5 million to provide music therapy for people with dementia.The charity says that it wants to offer music therapy to all of the 1,900 people living with dementia that it provides care for in its specialist dementia homes, an increase of over 400% on its current level of provision.

MHA spokesperson, Theresa Knight said “We want to make sure that every single one of our residents with dementia has access to a five month course of music therapy… It’s one of the big ambitions that we have.”

MHA’s innovative approach is further evidence of the increasingly creative approach that many care providers are taking to meet the needs of people with dementia. Moving away from traditional, passive activities to those that involve and potentially enhance the abilities of participants is, rightly, seen as a positive move and is likely to become more commonplace as providers recognise the benefits. Read on to learn more about music therapy and how your own service users can benefit from a more creative approach to care.

MHA’s Chief Music Therapist, Ming Hung Hsu, believes that music therapy is a much more effective way of reducing the symptoms of depression, anxiety, apathy and agitation than the use of medication and a trial study carried out within MHA which provided a weekly music therapy session for 20 weeks backed up this belief when a reduction in adverse symptoms was observed. Music therapy can be carried out on both a group or individual basis depending on the needs of those involved and their individual objectives and, when used appropriately, can be used to complement and enhance the care that your service already provides.

4 Steps to Explore the Benefits of Music Therapy for People with Dementia

  1. See it in action: An excellent way to find out more about the benefits of music therapy is to see it in action. The Alzheimer’s Society operates accessible music therapy groups across the country as part of its ‘Singing for the Brain’ programme. Find out more about your local grouphere and discuss the possibility of attending a session.
  2. Find out more: The British Association for Music Therapy (BAMT) website provides a comprehensive range of information on music therapy, including videos and a database which offers the opportunity to find a BAMT-registered therapist in your area.
  3. Consider Musica: Musica is an independent organisation providing care homes and hospitals with music workshops and performances by music therapists which aim to improve wellbeing. Musica is already working with a number of well-established care home groups as well as small providers.
  4. Involve families and friends: Music is a social activity and music therapy groups benefit from the enthusiasm and support of family members, friends and staff. Ensure that everyone knows that the groups are open to all and their participation is welcome. Making sessions fun, enjoyable and collaborative, is an important part of ensuring their success.

If you want to find out more about how music and other therapies can benefit your service users with dementia, subscribe to Care Quality Matters now. Every issue is packed with advice and guidance, supported by online resources, templates and checklists – and comes with our Dementia: Care and Support supplement.

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