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Music reconnects care network

Thursday 26 November, 2020

A woman holding a phone in one hand and switching on the speaker from the other hand

Music plays an important role in our work with people living with dementia. Using music can provide an opportunity to engage in an activity that may stimulate emotions and movement, address social and spiritual needs and help connect the carer to the person.

Grace was living with Alzheimer’s disease and unhappy in her care home. She was described by care staff as ‘agitated and anxious’ and staff found it difficult to engage with her.

Although the family had created a lovely home-like environment in Grace’s room, with a comfortable couch and familiar pictures, she didn’t like to spend time there. She would walk around the care home looking lost and asking staff if she could go home.

Discussions with the staff and Grace’s family uncovered that she had been a nurse. She considered the aged care home her place of work saying, “My shift is finished, I am ready to go home”.  She had also never been a very social person and was more at ease enjoying her own company curled up on the couch with a book.

DSA services provide advice and support to care for people with dementia in need. Part of that support includes the ability to provide tools and resources that may help the person in care.

After discussions with family and staff, the DSA Consultant brought in books for Grace, but soon realised that she was unable to maintain focus and read.  Audiobooks were also trialled however the team realised that this was not the right strategy either as Grace did not like wearing headphones and she lost interest after a short time.

Thinking of different strategies, the team trialled listening to some music.  Grace’s face lit up and started singing the songs along with her daughter. DSA purchased a portable wireless music device. A personal tablet was assigned to Grace and her daughter set up a playlist of her favourite songs.  Two playlists were created, a morning playlist to get her started for the day, with a bit of fun and an afternoon playlist with relaxing music to help unwind for the day before bed. 

The consultant also printed and laminated a list of simple instructions for her room which reminded Grace, staff, and her visitors how to activate the music device.

Grace is now more relaxed and loves listening to music in her room. Her family use it almost every time they are there and change the playlist regularly.  She now loves to be in her room, curling up on the couch and listening to music.

Staff have also reported Grace’s anxiety has decreased significantly, and rarely asks staff to go home.

By providing advice, strategies, and support tools to help Grace, the staff felt more confident and enjoy going into her room and listening and even singing to the music.