Work with a music therapist - Music for Dementia

What is music therapy?

Music therapy is an established psychological intervention delivered by music therapists, who are Health and Care Professions Council.

Because musical participation and response does not depend on the ability to speak, it can be particularly effective for those who have difficulty communicating verbally. Depending on the needs of the individual, music therapy can be tailored to offer a social experience with others or it can provide the sanctuary of a more private experience.

Music therapy during COVID-19

Health and safety restrictions during the pandemic will necessitate music therapists adhering to current social distancing guidelines, therefore providing a suitably-sized space is essential. Other considerations include adequate ventilation and wearing of PPE.

Outdoor music therapy sessions may be possible as an alternative, weather, confidentiality and risk assessments permitting.

How can it help someone with dementia?

Music therapy engages healthy parts of the brain to address the secondary effects of the illness, such as loss of confidence and self-worth, low mood and feelings of frustration, irritability and anxiety.

It offers a space in which to be heard and for emotions to be expressed in the safety of a therapeutic environment. Music therapists work with people living with dementia to support inevitable losses and look for appropriate ways to use music to meet their psychological needs.

How does music therapy work with everyday care?

Music therapists work as part of a multidisciplinary team and will liaise with other professionals to provide a holistic, joined-up approach to their care. They may offer joint sessions with other health professionals and carers to meet specific aims and goals, such as physiotherapists, nurses, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and clinical psychologists.

Do people need to ‘be musical’ to receive music therapy?

No, this is not necessary.

The British Association for Music Therapy says: ‘Music therapists work with a range of musical styles and genres to offer appropriate, sensitive and meaningful musical interaction their clients. Using music in this way enables clients to create their own unique musical language in which to explore and connect with the world and express themselves.’

Which organisations work in music therapy?

BAMT is the professional body for music therapy in the UK, providing both practitioners and non-practitioners with information, professional support, and training opportunities. It is also a charity aiming to promote and raise awareness of the uses of music therapy.

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Music as Therapy International supports musicians and music therapists to engage with skill-sharing projects providing training for care workers, as well as providing consultation for musicians and music therapists

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Nordoff Robbins is the largest independent music therapy charity in the UK. It supports people with dementia in care homes, hospitals, and at their own centres. The charity undertakes vital research into music therapy and its uses, advocates publicly for the use of music therapy, and trains future music therapists. They also run short courses open to everyone.

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For further support, please click below to find a music therapist in your local area.

Find a music therapist

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