Patients and staff at Harlow hospital enjoy ‘Singing for the Brain’ music therapy

Health / Fri 3rd May 2019 am31 10:46am

Patients and staff at Harlow hospital enjoy ‘Singing for the Brain’ music therapy

IT is estimated that over 850,000 people in the UK currently live with dementia, and this is predicted to rise to over one million by 2025. Music therapy plays a crucial role in the care of many people with dementia, helping minimise apathy, anxiety, restlessness and depression and it can support people at all stages of dementia.

On Gibberd ward at the Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust (PAHT) staff have put music therapy into action. On Tuesday, the dementia team, working in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society held the first ‘Singing for the brain’ session.

Patients with mild to severe dementia, those without dementia, their carers and family members, together with staff enjoyed a musical stroll down memory lane, with favourite songs from the past, spanning the 1930s to the 1960s. The melodies of Somewhere over the rainbow, Edelweiss, Moon River and I’d do anything sounded around the Gibberd unit, and whether bedbound or ambulatory, patients could take part, with family and staff joining in.

The session was the first of planned weekly ‘Singing for the brain’ sessions that will be held at the Harlow hospital every Tuesday.
Caroline Ashton-Gough, dementia clinical nurse specialist at PAHT said: “People with dementia may experience problems with language; however, the ability to sing is often preserved along with knowledge of song lyrics learnt in their earlier years. Music therapy promotes engagement and interaction between an individual or a group using musical instruments and the voice. Music therapy encourages verbal and non-verbal expression, cognitive stimulation and listening skills and does not require any previous musical knowledge or skill.”

Martyn Barter a volunteer from the Alzheimer’s Society will be supporting the sessions for the next few weeks and was overwhelmed with Tuesday’s session. He said he was looking forward to helping to make a difference to patients ‘living with dementia’ in PAHT, their family carers and our staff.

Caroline added: “Reflecting on yesterday, we saw a lady with advanced dementia who doesn’t normally communicate start tapping her feet; a gentleman who was visiting his wife wants to return every week; and a gentleman who finds it hard to rest sat through the session, folding his song sheet because he knew all the words.”

If anyone is interested in volunteering to support the sessions in order to be able to offer this to all patients within PAHT, Caroline would like to hear from you. For more information, please contact [email protected]

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