Advice for music therapists and practitioners

For older people in care homes, hospitals or hospices, particularly those living with dementia, music can offer a unique way to engage.

It can also be a way to communicate and find routine, comfort and creativity in life. The potential benefits to their wellbeing and quality of life are evidenced through research and lived experience, and there is a clear underlying neurological basis for working with music.

Some of the UK’s care homes have embraced music and its therapeutic benefits, but the vast majority of the 18,000+ care homes do not yet offer their residents genuinely considered participative music opportunities.

COVID-19 has severely interrupted live music delivery and the stimulation provided by live performances and interaction they can provide has been sorely missed.

Musicians still have a role

While this might be a reduced one at present, with online and garden performances (weather permitting), there can be great benefits for musicians who include care homes in their repertoire.

As well as regular paid work, musicians report that working with older people can provide nourishment for their other creative, performance-based work, giving them unique insights into the emotional power that their music can have.

If you can hold your own in a care home,
the stage of the Albert Hall or Wembley Arena won’t daunt you at all!

Music for Dementia

Music therapists can work across care settings

providing specialist services to address specific needs of residents and providing clinically informed support to staff. Music therapists provide a range of services, from working with playlists, facilitating singing groups and choirs, working with other health and care professionals to deliver therapy programmes. To find a music therapist, please visit BAMT.

Find out more about what music therapy is.


Singing and making music with residents in care homes can be challenging but it is always rewarding. Live Music Now has put together a toolkit which will help you start, whether you’re a professional musician, care home staff or an amateur singer (and there are tips for more established practitioners, too.)

Toolkit for Musicians

Toolkit for Care Homes

Singing tutorials and tips for care staff

Music and the Care Quality Commission

Live Music Now has been training and supporting musicians throughout the UK to work in care homes for over 40 years

They have created a set of free online resources to help encourage more care homes and musicians to work together, with practical guidance (including videos) on all the above topics. Visit their website to access these. For early-career professional musicians of all genres, you may wish to consider auditioning to join the Live Music Now scheme. For music therapists, you can join BAMT’s Dementia Network. Please contact BAMT for more information.

View and download our 10-point advice document on working in care homes.

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