In 2017 Advisory Panel member and professional music therapist Hazel Child delivered a six-week training project in Worthing, UK. The project formed part of the Bringing It All Back Home initiative launched in 2016; a new programme of projects exploring the relevance and impact of our approach within the UK care sector.

The on-site skill sharing took place across two care settings – Haviland House and the Bradbury Centre. Both provide care and support for elderly residents, many of whom are living with dementia. Through their day centre, members of the local community were also able to access the services of the two settings. The project’s aim was to enhance the good work already being done by the caregivers working there

By identifying project aims in partnership with the care staff, it meant they were part of the process from the outset, and extremely responsive as a result. The impact of the training was also clear. Some staff commented how it gave them new skills to improve the experience of service users. Others spoke of having had their eyes opened to new aspects of residents’ abilities or personalities, which in turn helped reshape the dynamic of the carer/patient relationship for the better. 

It’s a real eye opener… Downstairs, people are able to hide more behind social conversation, but up here I can really see how they are

This was reflected in the experience of the elderly people taking part in music sessions, where the introduction of music into their care brought opportunities for self-direction, choice, self-expression, co-operation and participation. Especially for those who struggled with verbal communication as a result of their condition, the impact was almost immediate, providing a new freedom to express and unburden themselves. 

It releases so much, the music. At home I get so (hunches shoulders) tight and stressed but doing the music session lets it out.”

The project saw five members of staff trained, creating opportunities for 200 residents and members of the local community to access music as part of their care. The training was also shortlisted for an Advancing Healthcare Award in 2018 in recognition of the project’s approach and sustainable impact.