Embedding music into dementia care
In September 2019, Advisory Panel Member Clare Reynolds delivered an on-site skill-sharing project with Invernevis House, a residential home for elderly people in Fort William, many of whom have dementia. Three months later she returned to see how Mandy, Helen and Donna were doing post-training. They showed Clare how they were doing music with residents, and together they spoke about the longer-term impact music was having at Invernevis, and how to keep this momentum up.
Clare was thrilled to hear from the Partners that their music training had become integrated into life at Invernevis already. Straight away, she could see that music was taking place regularly and that the residents knew and enjoyed the set-up. The Partners too were clearly grown in confidence over the past three months, and felt assured in their own way of doing music, applying their new musical skills to the many different aspects of care home life. Though they didn’t all have time to run weekly sessions, all three Partners were using music to benefit the residents in their own unique way. Donna was using music to facilitate personal care and in one-to-ones, and had also started evening musical gatherings to help with residents’ often challenging behaviour after tea time. Whereas Mandy had been running weekly group singing sessions, which Clare was able to observe and participate in. Later in the month Clare returned to see Helen’s smaller group, too.
Sitting alongside them and leading some singing together has really helped to reduce the anxiety and angst that some of the residents feel.Clare Reynolds, music therapist
After observing, Clare and the Partners reflected on what they were already doing so skilfully, and how they might develop it further. Each Partner received individualised advice and ideas, and to all Clare recommended the Activity Book as refresher for the group sessions. Management supports this project and music at Invernevis wholeheartedly, which was really great to see three months since we’d last been there. Perhaps even more positively, other staff members understood th importance of music, and are supportive and involved.
Impressively, there was clear evidence of music participation the wider setting, with all 39 of the residents able to access music as part of their care. Staff were more autonomous with their skills, and were confidently building up ownership of their music programme. They were both championed by Clare, and left with new ideas to build on their skills.
Follow-up visit: Invernevis House (Fort William) 2020