Our Director, Richard White, is delighted to share with you the results of an eye-opening pilot research study, conducted at our Worcester care home in collaboration with the University of Worcester, into using Sound Therapy as a treatment for dementia:
Music does not just have the power to invoke mood and passion, it is also able to restore a balance in a life thought lost.
When broadcaster Sally Magnusson’s mother developed dementia, a range of psychotic drugs were recommended to help, but Sally opted for the power of music. As soon as her mum listened to her favourite tunes in the Sound of Music, her spirit soared immediately. She sang the tunes verbatim, even singing in harmony. For Sally, this was a revelation and since then she’s campaigned to ensure music is now an integral part of life for people with dementia.
Sally’s moving story is one of many that I’ve read concerning the restorative power of music for people with dementia. In our Worcester care home, we use music to improve significantly the lives of our elderly residents who have dementia – and bring happiness to their family and carers.
How Sound Therapy Research Evolved At Our Worcester Care Home
At our care home Worcester, Stanfield Nursing Home, we have a similar story to Sally’s. Lenni Sykes’s mum was suffering from dementia and Lenni was desperate to calm her mum’s agitated state of mind. Initially music had proved helpful but Lenni trained with The College of Sound Healing to discover how sound might help her mum. A fellow student introduced her to the Freenotes Wing, a tuned percussion instrument designed for sound therapy. The soothing tones of the instrument had an immediate effect on her mum, whose extreme agitation calmed when it was played.
When a new charity, Sound4Healing was formed, they agreed to fund a research project using the instrument to relieve agitation in dementia sufferers. I was so taken by the story that I agreed to co-fund the pilot study along with Sound4Healing. Lenni contacted the Association for Dementia Studies at the University of Worcester to collaborate on the project and manage the data collection while she focussed on designing sound sessions specifically for people with dementia.
The research at our Worcester care home involved choosing residents with high levels of agitation to listen to the harmony and pure tones of the Freenotes Wing with its five-tone pentatonic scale. The College of Sound Healing believes the impact of therapeutic tones helps to restore and maintain harmony in the body and mind.
This research covered almost four months. In that time we ran 20 brief sessions – about 15 minutes long – using the Freenotes Wing every three days. The research at Stanfield Nursing Home focused on residents who were in a state of marked agitation; they were assigned a care home staff member who observed the sound healing interventions. As part of the research, the designated staff used an observation tool, while observing the residents for two hours during the first, mid-point and final day of the Sound4Healing programme. The outcome of the pilot indicated that the delivery of sound therapy sessions using the Freenotes Wing can help to create a soothing atmosphere in communal areas of our care home in Worcester.
The research also reinforced for me personally how important music is in supporting those experiencing dementia. At our care home in Worcester music has always been important for residents – with and without dementia. But the research has shown how certain types of music can make all the difference to a person’s life. And it wasn’t only the person with dementia who benefited. The sound sessions brought a peace, calm and harmony to the entire environment in our Worcester care home.
Everyone, from people at all stages of dementia, to other residents, staff and visiting family, felt a lower of anxiety levels and a reduction of stress.
General research is still at a very early stage regarding sound therapy and dementia. Nevertheless, our pilot at Stanfield Nursing Home demonstrated the potential benefit of future research. Above all, it showed what could be achieved and how the quality of life for our residents with dementia can be significantly improved along with new learning techniques being used by our staff.
Clearly our work and that of people like Sally Magnusson and Lenni Sykes is helping to lighten up the often dark, anxious world lived by people with dementia.
Stanfield Nursing Home
If you would like to learn more or are considering care home arrangements for yourself or for a loved one, please feel free to contact us on 01905 420 459.
You may also like to read our previous blog post about how we put a smile on our residents faces at our Nursing Home in Worcester.
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