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A choir in every care home

It’s often said that music is the medicine for the soul; a powerful tool to stir emotion and provoke feelings. Research shows the brain releases that “feel good” endorphin when we listen to music, leading to increased feelings of happiness and excitement. This is particularly significant for our older generation, whose extraordinary memories could be unlocked with the simple sound of a melody.

It’s a remedy the Activities Team at our Monkscroft Care Centre couldn’t turn their back on, so when The Orders of St John Care Trust (OSJCT) were asked to take part in a national initiative aimed at supporting music and singing in the care homes across the UK, it was an easy decision.

The project, led by Live Music Now (LMN), has professional musicians run interactive and creative music sessions with the residents. The residents are encouraged to delve deep to use their memories and stories to create their own music, with carers encouraged to get involved too. From learning how to handle an instrument, to helping residents join in and dance and sing at the level of ability they are able to, everyone can get involved. And with each session, the residents’ musical ability develops, enabling the LMN musicians to refine the session based on what is important to the individuals in the room. The information gathered from the sessions will be used to aid research in understanding the impact of music intervention for residents in a care home setting.

“This innovative project will help extend our understanding of the impact of high quality music and singing activity upon the lives and wellbeing of those who live and work in care homes. In other OSJCT homes that have been fortunate to have similar projects, the impacts have been wide ranging and at times, profound, leaving a positive legacy for residents, their families and loved ones,” Victoria Elliot, Principal Care Consultant at OSJCT, said. “Equally important, we have found that the benefits of this music-loving activity, when carried on by committed carers and activity Coordinators in the home, are cumulative. This could potentially be a key point of learning for a sector that can rarely afford to commission programmes of music-making, often making do instead with ‘one off’ live music sessions.”

The initiative will soon spread across to other OSJCT homes.

“It is very rewarding to hear our residents talking about the sessions together, and the elements they enjoyed. In particular, these sessions enable individuals who have recently joined the homes to have a purpose and a voice, and decrease their isolation, which is difficult to achieve using traditional approaches,” Victoria said.

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