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  • Music as therapy in Rwanda 2015

    Greetings from Rwanda! We’ve just completed the first stage of our trip. We visited our Local Partners at Urugwiro Centre and Ngwino Nawe and observed some of their sessions, demonstrating their maturing music as therapy practice.

    We discussed with them the exciting new step for Project Rwanda and their involvement in training the next generation of music as therapy practitioners in Rwanda. These exchange visits will take place via Tubakunde, an umbrella organization for disabled children’s villages in Rwanda and we are very excited to be collaborating with them to deliver the conference next Friday. We’ll write more about this next week!

    Our visit to Cyangugu, southwest Rwanda was an opportunity to meet up with staff at the centres and Rwanda Aid, our hosts, who we have known since 2010 and are now old friends. We shared many songs, much laughter and a few goat brochettes. It was our fourth visit there and it gets harder to say goodbye each time. Many thanks to all our supporters.

    Caroline and Nicky 

  • Muraho from Gisenyi!

    Stephanie and I have been back in Rwanda for a week now. We arrived in Gisenyi on Monday afternoon and went straight to the Ubumwe Community Center (UCC) to see and say hello to everyone. It was lovely to see so many familiar faces and to be greeted so enthusiastically. We were also taken to see the new homes for the people with disabilities from Noel de Nyundo orphanage, which has now completely shut.

    The houses are all located in walking distance to UCC and the 23 people that live in them attend the centre everyday. It was great to see how their lives had changed since we were last here. They now live in spacious houses with lovely gardens and each house has their own little family that is part of a broader community as well. We had brought some instruments with us from the UK and we also bought some drums whilst we were in Kigali. We planned to give each of the houses a small selection of instruments so they could run music sessions for fun and socialising in the afternoons and at the weekends. Each afternoon for the rest of the week we visited a different house once they had returned from being at UCC. We were pleased to see that some of the carers who had taken part in the introductory skill-sharing project last year were working in the houses and were able to take a lead on running the music sessions, with our encouragement. We were delighted to see how much they remembered and the positive responses of the those they were working with.

    One care worker, Alexi, has shown particular enthusiasm for the music sessions and seems extremely keen to learn more about music as therapy and how he can use it with those he is working with.  He has joined us every afternoon at each of the houses. Where there were carers with no previous training, he was able to lead the session and we hope with time he can pass on what he has learnt to other carers and they will be able to lead sessions in their homes without Alexi being there. We realise this may take some encouragement to begin with but we hope with time it can become part of their weekly routine.

    In response to the concerns of the director of UCC we have identified someone who we hope can be the music programme coordinator. Joyuese received some training last year and we are using our time whilst we are here to build upon her skills so she can hopefully be the focal person for music as therapy at UCC.

    The days have been spent working closely with Joyuese and Alexi as well as observing and helping to run sessions with other workers who took part in the initial training. Due to issues with there not being enough space the staff have been struggling to run individual and small group sessions. They have been asking us how they can run music sessions in bigger groups, so this is something we have being trying to help them think about. A house opposite the centre is hopefully being opened up as a centre specifically for therapy and we hope this will include a specific room for music as therapy sessions.

    We have two days left to work at UCC and then we will travel to Kigali where we will be meeting back up with Nicky and Caroline and we will help them to host a conference for members of the Tubakunde Network (National Disability Network). We hope that Joyuese and Alexi from UCC will attend this conference as well as some staff members from Hope and Homes for Children and the National Commission for Children.

    We look forward to updating you on how the next week goes!

    Hannah and Stephanie

  • ‘Music Therapy and Dementia Care in the 21st Century’ conference at Anglia Ruskin University

    Music as Therapy International are delighted to have had their round table proposal accepted by Anglia Ruskin University for their upcoming conference on Music Therapy and Dementia Care in the 21st Century. The panel for the round table discussion on ‘What is the relevance of skill-sharing to music therapists working in the field of dementia?’ includes Professor Helen Odell-Miller who has a distinguished career as a music therapist working in mental health and is currently working with parliamentary groups on music therapy and dementia, Ming Hung Hsu who is the head music therapist for Methodist homes and conducting doctoral research into music therapy and dementia, and Music as Therapy International’s Director, Alexia Quin, who brings her experience of 20 years of music therapy skill-sharing projects around the world. The round table will provide the charity with a fantastic opportunity to canvas the music therapy profession on their feelings and experiences on skill-sharing with carers of people with dementia. 

    Caroline Anderson

  • Dementia Quality of Care Conference 2015, Manchester

    As Music as Therapy International’s UK Research and Development Officer, I have been exploring the needs of people living with dementia, and those who care for them.  This is a new avenue for the charity, but with our experience in sustainable, effective skill-sharing projects, we could be uniquely placed to make a real difference in quality of care for people living with dementia. The Alzheimers Society projects that by 2025 there will be one million people living with dementia; a vast number that cannot possibly be reached by the UK’s existing music therapists.  However, evidence is mounting that for people with dementia, music can provide a connection to other people, to past experiences and memories, and play a vital role in improving quality of life and also quality of care.

    Each Music as Therapy International project begins with taking time to listen to and understand the needs of the people we are working with. To this end in April I attended the ‘Dementia Quality of Care’ Conference in Manchester to better understand some of the issues for this growing group of people. The speakers were drawn from people living with dementia, their families, carers, and health professionals. Some of the key messages that came out of the day were:

    ·        -Support mechanisms are vital: emotional support, good systems for planning care into the future, and quality end of life care

    ·        -Support is also required for family members and carers of people with dementia

    ·        -‘Integrated, person-centred holistic support’ is needed; this is not currently done well enough

    ·        -Carers and health professionals need to recognise personhood and individuality in the people they work with

    ·        -Combating isolation, depression and stress is vital as these affect the progression of the disease

    The personal stories and the passion with which the contributors spoke were very moving. I was interested to notice that nearly every speaker referred to the importance or role of music in their life in some way, from the popular ukulele band that has started in the hospital dementia ward, to the speaker who can sing along to songs but can longer remember the names of his friends. Through skill-sharing with care staff, Music as Therapy International could well have a role in helping to bring music into the lives of people living with dementia.

    Caroline Anderson

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