Regular participatory music programmes should be considered “essential for all UK care homes” because of the wellbeing boost they deliver to residents and staff alike, a new report argues.
An evaluation of projects across five care homes found that participating in and delivering three-month interventions can provide “positive social experiences as well as creative engagement, fun and a sense of achievement”.
The sessions were found to play a key role in “awakening a sense of identify and empowerment” for residents, as well as strengthening their relationships with staff and noticeably improving the overall atmosphere in homes.
Residents took part in 45-minute weekly sessions, which were led by pairs of trained professional musicians, and focused on singing and the use of voice.
The benefits for residents included gratification gained through their musical contributions, better mood, and physical exercise through moving in response to the music. The effect on some was dramatic, moving people “from withdrawal to expression”.
But the report urges sensitivity when planning programmes, because some types of music have the potential to disturb residents.
Percussion instruments are not always appropriate, because they can make some people “confused and anxious”.
And having found that some residents withdrew from more complex rhythms or unfamiliar repertoire, the report recommends that schemes should balance these with simpler and less challenging music.
The authors say that to make the most of music interventions, strategic planning from the outset is necessary, to establish “an essential structure and definition of tasks”.
Care Home Management will be looking deeper into the evidence base for music-based care home activity in its January issue. Care home managers can subscribe free of charge by contacting the editor.