Residents at St Vincent’s House care home in Hammersmith, West London, have just completed an eight-week music project, aimed at enhancing their social and emotional wellbeing.
The project, called Music for Life, involved a group of eight residents, up to five care staff, and three professional musicians meeting each week for interactive, therapeutic music workshops.
The aim of Music for Life, which is run by the Wigmore Hall and Dementia UK, is to use music to enhance the social and emotional wellbeing of participants, especially those who are living with dementia. The workshops use music to explore each resident’s potential for self-expression and communication, enabling care staff to develop a deeper understanding of how they may be able to enhance meaningful, person centred contact with those who are living with dementia.
In each of the workshops at St Vincent’s House the musicians improvised music with, and for, the residents using a carefully chosen selection of percussion instruments. Participants were invited to direct with a baton, or the musicians simply responded to their body language, facial expressions or posture, finding ways of communicating with residents living with advanced dementia. They were able to draw out something of their individuality, empowering each person to make choices and express themselves.
The Music for Life initiative has been running for over twenty years and its workshops prove to be an enriching experience for everyone involved. Each workshop at St Vincent’s House was preceded by a planning session and followed by a detailed debrief for musicians, staff and managers.
The care team’s experience and observations during the Music for Life project has enabled them to find ways to subtly enhance how they interact with certain residents. Commenting on the project, Kirsty Lee, activity coordinator at St Vincent’s House, said: “It was lovely to see residents being able to communicate and express themselves through music. This was especially the case for those who had initially sat quietly and not engaged in the early sessions.”
To find out more about how the team at St Vincent’s House cares for older people, including those living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia click here.
Discover more about Music for Life.