BC Patient Safety & Quality Council

Font Size: Larger | Smaller

Giving the Gift of Music

Gift of Music Card - thumbnail2You might have noticed that we’ve included quite a few links to resources related to music in recent newsletters. We find the impact that it can have on a person with dementia very compelling, and many CLeAR teams agree (more on that below).

We designed the card that you see to the right so that you can distribute it to family members who might be buying presents for their loved ones during the upcoming holiday season. Click on the image – or right here – to download our easy-to-print PDF. We also have a larger version that includes some of the following stories.

Music Therapy Resources

Great Tools from Kiwanis Village
Nanaimo’s Kiwanis Village has partnered with nursing students at Vancouver Island University over recent years to develop tools for its music therapy program. The facility has generously shared them:

aliveinsidethumbnail2Alive Inside – a Documentary on the Link between Music and Memory
Alive Inside is an award-winning documentary that “visits family members who have witnessed the miraculous effects of personalized music on their loved ones, and offers illuminating interviews with experts.”

The movie is now on Netflix and iTunes, and you can order the DVD from Amazon. You can also read a review by Trudy Gallant, a social worker at Port Moody’s Eagle Ridge Manor.

musicspreadsheetthumbnail3Looking for Used iPods for Your Facility?
Your music therapist can request iPods from Music Heals, which collects and cleans used iPods.

If your facility has extra iPods or families looking to donate more than you can accept, they can be donated to the organization.

Music Therapy Timeframes

Often when music therapy has impacted a resident, time was needed for changes to occur. Here is a story from Kiwanis Care Centre that shows music therapy’s powerful effects months after it was started with a resident named “Bob.”

Bob is a former doctor who used to be a recreational guitar player and singer; he remains young and strong today while living in a special care plus unit. From admission he spent most of his time in his room and received music therapy 1:1 visits. He would become agitated when the music therapist sang the lyrics of familiar songs, so the music therapist played songs he liked while singing “la la la” to the melodies. He struggled with his receptive language verbally and in the music, and would often would move to the music and make short comments on how pleasing it was to him.

Months later, he now comes on his own to the group sessions out in the common area. He no longer requires the music therapist to sing “la la la” but listens to the songs with the lyrics being sung. He also initiates musical expression by strumming the guitar while the therapist plays the left hand and sings familiar songs. Then he joins the therapist on the piano while the therapist plays calm chords. From isolation to performing for others, Bob is now contributing to and engaging with his community and is enjoyed by his peers and the staff.

Inspirational Stories from Across British Columbia

Here are some great stories from CLeAR teams about their experiences with music therapy:

I was recently walking down the hallway and came across one of our residents and their family celebrating a 90th birthday. I stopped in to say hello and ask if I could sing happy birthday. We started the song and everybody was happy and singing and the resident joined in too. When we got towards the end of the song, the resident’s daughter came up to me and whispered in my ear “keep singing, I haven’t heard my mom’s voice in 10 years.”
– Glacier View Lodge.

I witnessed something very special during our Friday afternoon social. A resident got so emotional when he heard three train-related songs being played. The resident had worked on trains for most of his life and his room is full of train pictures. When the music was playing he had tears running down his face. This resident does not involve himself in many group activities, so it was very special to see him involved. This resident is not able to get up and dance but when the music was being played he started conducting with his hands and kicking up his feet in time to the music. It was a very real connection to his past. It was an amazing thing to witness.
– CLeAR facility

We have a lovely 86-year-old resident with advanced dementia. Her ability to speak clearly has decreased substantially over the last few months. She is very sensitive to her environment, especially if it is getting too busy or noisy. She’ll demonstrate her agitation by tapping her feet and yelling out frequently, affecting her ability to eat well and to feel relaxed. Recently, her family brought in a MP3 player which plays some of her favourite Chinese music. Any sign of anxiety, we will turn on the MP3 player and apply the ear buds, sitting her in a quiet area (ie: her room) and she’ll sing along with the music. After that, she is usually peaceful enough to enjoy her meal or sit with the other residents for a while.
– Victoria Chinatown Care Centre

Read three more inspiring stories here.