A music therapy service provided by US charity MUSIC & MEMORY has produced tangible improvements in the behaviour and wellbeing of residents at 10 pilot homes in the UK.

MUSIC & MEMORY trains nursing home staff and other elder care professionals, as well as family caregivers, on how to create and provide personalised playlists using iPods and related digital audio systems that enable those struggling with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other cognitive and physical challenges to reconnect with the world through music-triggered memories.

MUSIC & MEMORY Director Manon Bruinsma told Care Home Professional: “We believe music therapy is a nursing intervention and should be part of daily care just as much as giving medicines and washing people and helping with their meals.”

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The scheme was instrumental in Woodlands Nursing Home in Burgess Hill, West Sussex achieving an Outstanding rating earlier this year (see Outstanding rating is music to care provider’s ears).

One resident at the home told inspectors: “I love listening to the old tunes, it really is lovely. I remember them well.”

A juke box has been installed in Woodlands to connect to iPod playlists.

Lorna Eborn-Doy, nurse at Woodlands Nursing Home, said: “There’s been a marked difference in the behaviours and alertness of our residents. It’s a great project.”

Manon added: “People can have a very emotional response when they hear music they haven’t heard for decades. Some people begin to speak who haven’t spoken in a long time.”

CQC Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care Andrea Sutcliffe recently noted how effective music and the arts can be in the treatment of dementia, saying: “Music can have a wonderful impact on enriching people’s lives.”

This year’s CQC State of Care report added: “Participation in individualised personalised music listening sessions can reduce anxiety and/or depression in nursing home residents with dementia and …. may enhance overall wellbeing for adults with dementia.”

Teresa Warren, Registered Manager at Templemore Care Home in Northampton, which has been on the programme for the last year, told us: “Our residents are happier. They are more communicative and responsive. They sing along. Some of them don’t want to take the headphones off. Their families say ‘it’s lovely to see them smiling’.”

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