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“Enjoy your Music Lesson…”
Misunderstandings of Music Therapy with People with Dementia

By Polly Bowler, Music Therapist 


Working as a music therapist in care homes I come across many different people; the older people I work with (clients/residents), their relatives and friends, the staff who care for them and run the homes where they live, my fellow health care professionals and the generous volunteers. With so many people involved it can be tricky to get across what I’m doing, or trying to do for the residents. In the complex jigsaw puzzle of the care system, music therapy is one of the lesser known 

allied healthcare professions that helps to make up the bigger picture of care. Raising awareness about what music therapy is and how it can help can feel like having a song on repeat; gently correcting and redirecting the well-meant but often mistaken assumptions that people have.

So I wondered if I could help try to explain some of the common misunderstandings that I have encountered in my work with people with dementia. 

1) “Music therapy will make you happy”

Let’s start here, as happiness is something that we all want to experience and enjoy.  On my way to and from music therapy sessions with residents we are often stopped and greeted with, “have a good time”, “enjoy yourself” and “have fun”.  In a setting where people are struggling with loss on multiple fronts - loss of identity, loss of occupation, loss of independence, loss of their home and possessions, as well as the losses felt by their relatives and friends - it can become vital for relatives and staff to be able to think of and see the residents being happy. 

The focus of music therapy sessions however is not to make someone feel happy, but instead it is to try to establish how a person is feeling and to be there with them with those feelings, whatever they might be. This is not to say that happiness is not important. It is. But so are all the other emotions

that we can experience. People with dementia still feel the full spectrum of emotions that they have always had. However, their ability to cope with or process them may have declined which could lead to frustration, anxiety or agitation. Music therapy can offer a means of non-verbal self-expression, connecting again through music, whether the resident is feeling happy or sad, wistful or excited, tired or animated. 

By using a mixture of improvisation and familiar music the communication of feelings and emotions can be given an alternative language through which to be expressed. 

2) “How did they do?”

We all want to feel a sense of achievement in life. In music therapy, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way for clients to be. They cannot get it ‘wrong’ as sessions are person-centred and the therapist follows and supports them in whatever mood or state they are in. So I suppose the answer to this will always be that they did it perfectly. 

I sometimes wonder if this also ties into a mistaken belief that I am there to teach the residents. Perhaps this is because music lessons are a more familiar concept than music therapy sessions so people think that’s what I do in sessions with residents. When I’m not being a music therapist, I am an instrumental music teacher. I have taught cello, sax and piano for years. However the two professions are worlds apart. 

3) “You wouldn’t want to see them!” 

”they’re too challenging” or “today’s not a good day…” Staff can sometimes seem to be trying to protect me from the challenging behaviours that residents can exhibit as a result of their confusion brought on by their dementia. Often, these are the very behaviours that music therapists are trained and employed to try to help the resident and home with. 

Challenging behaviours can be anything from wandering or perambulating, to physical aggression and the whole spectrum in between. Imagine having a surge of emotion but not being able to understand what it is yourself, and also not being able to communicate it to anyone else. By the therapist’s intense observations of body language, facial expressions, tone of voice and any verbal interaction offered they can try to gauge how someone is feeling and to then meet them with music to support and validate those feelings. This can lead to the resident feeling responded to and understood which in turn can lead to their mood changing. But if it doesn’t change that is ok too, and we can remain in their current emotional state together rather than them being there alone and unsupported. 

 

4) “Why don’t you see so-and-so instead?”

What is the saying about best laid plans? Seeing people for sessions in the place that they live in means that there can be a vast number of things that can prevent you from being able to have a session when you had hoped. The resident might not be up yet, or they might be doing something else or demonstrating their right to choose by not coming (it is important to respect people’s autonomy). Consequently, the usual boundaries of time and place associated with therapy may need to become flexible in order to facilitate sessions. 

I work with individuals who have been referred to individual music therapy for weekly sessions. The referral process at my workplace (it will be different in other establishments) enables me to learn about the resident’s personal history, their medical diagnosis, the medication/s that they are prescribed and the potential side effects that they could cause, possible risks both to them or to me, the reason that the referral has been made and so on. 

After referral, six assessment sessions are offered. This process enables a more thorough understanding of the resident as well as the chance to establish therapeutic aims for the course of sessions. Seeing people for one-off sessions can be done, but it is a very different process without this background knowledge. That isn’t to say it is better or worse, just different. It is my priority to try to see the residents who have been referred to me and are ‘in therapy’. 

5) “Are you doing music entertainment later?”

I run an open group therapy session each day. The term ‘open group’ means that anyone can come or go as they please. I’ve mentioned the confusion that people with dementia can experience. This, combined with the common hearing problems that older people can have and the difficulties with processing situations or events occurring around them, can make it problematic to run large open groups in the traditional improvisation-based manner. The structure and familiarity offered by pre-composed, well-known songs and tunes can provide residents with a feeling of relaxedness and comfort. This in turn can provide a foundation for increasing positive social interactions and communication between the members of the group whilst tapping in to the resources that people still have. 

Isolation is a common result of dementia. Depression can be a common secondary symptom too, which itself can lead to isolation, lethargy and apathy. Engaging residents with familiar music can promote opportunities for sociable encounters with others. And once people are engaging and interacting, it can be possible to encourage improvisation. This promotes spontaneity and creativity, which in turn can raise self-esteem and feelings of being skilled, helping to enrich and maintain their quality of life. 

And finally…

There are many more misconceptions surrounding music therapy, but more importantly there is a growing understanding of our clinical work. As staff see their residents respond to both the individual and group sessions they themselves become more interested and supportive of sessions, enabling residents to attend and offering them gentle encouragement if they seem unsure. We are able to work as a multi-disciplinary team, feeding back important observations and suggestions to each other. As music therapy reaches and helps more clients and their families, people’s understanding of it will continue grow. 

Dementia affects an ever growing number of people and it affects each of them differently. Music therapy offers a person centred, non-drug based intervention which can be relevant in the early stages of dementia all the way through to end of life care; for those at home in the community, in hospital or in care homes, regardless of the challenges and difficulties that the client might be experiencing. As a profession we strive to continue to learn and keep our knowledge up to date in order to best meet the individual needs of our clients. No two sessions are alike, just as no two clients are the same. Our training enables us to tailor sessions to the ever-changing needs of the individual. It is both a challenge and a privilege to carry out this work.

Polly has been playing music her whole life. Following her education at the Purcell School and Trinity College of Music, she trained and qualified as a music therapist at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and has worked with people with Dementia since early 2012. She plays cello in an invigorating and exciting folk collective, Tribe of Tinkers. 

The British Association for Music Therapy is the professional body for music therapist and a source of information, support and involvement for the general public, and acts as a voice for those who could benefit from music therapy and those who provide music therapy. Find out more at BAMT

Music Therapy Week 2015, 22 – 28 June is a week dedicated to raising awareness about how music therapy can improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our communities across the UK. It can help people of any age who find it difficult to communicate verbally due to a physical or cognitive disability, emotional distress or mental illness. 

To find out how you can get involved, please visit www.bamt.org and support the campaign online at Facebook or Twitter using @musictherapyuk #MTW2015 #musictherapyuk 









Music Therapy Week, 22 – 28 June 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

23 June 2015

Leading figures debate access to music therapy for people with dementia

This week leading academics, researchers and practitioners from the field of dementia will meet with MPs on Thursday to debate how access to music therapy can be improved for people with dementia.

Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth said: ‘I am delighted to be co-sponsoring this important meeting on music therapy and dementia. I know from my personal experience of caring for my mother, who had dementia and sadly died a few years ago, just how important music is in unlocking memories and connecting with the past. Music has a unique role in reaching parts of the brain in ways other forms of communication cannot and has been shown to be incredibly beneficial to people with dementia.’

Leading research has shown that music therapy can significantly improve and support the mood, alertness and engagement of people with dementia, can reduce the use of medication, as well as helping to manage and reduce agitation, isolation, depression and anxiety, overall supporting a better quality of life (Ridder et al, 2013). Music therapy can help people at all stages in their journey with dementia to enrich life and tap into the resources that people with dementia still have.

Helen Odell-Miller, Professor of Music Therapy, Director of The Music Therapy Research Centre and Head of Therapies at Anglia Ruskin University, will be presenting significant research at the meeting. She said, ‘Music therapy can help address the Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge 2020. Our research has shown, not only a reduction in agitation for people with dementia, but also a marked positive change in carer’s attitudes both in relation to music therapy, and stemming from the music therapy work more generally.’

The roundtable discussion at Portcullis House takes place during Music Therapy Week; a national awareness raising campaign organizes by the British Association for Music Therapy. This year it focuses on the valuable role music therapy has to play in supporting people with dementia and those who care for them.

Prof. Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England – the leading representative body for independent care services in England, states, ‘Music therapy is intrinsic to enriching the quality of life for those with dementia. Recent research demonstrates the significant role it has to play in supporting a better quality of life, and that is because music taps into the resources that people with dementia still have, enabling them to maintain connections with loved ones and the world around them. But, the impact is wider reaching. Carers also see the impact that music therapy can have and thus helps them to better understand the people they are caring for, providing a higher quality of care.’

The meeting has received cross-party support. Tracey Crouch MP for Chatham and Aylesbury said: ‘I absolutely delighted to be sponsoring this roundtable to highlight the positive impact of music therapy for dementia patients. These non-clinical interventions can be extremely life-enhancing and I believe it’s hugely important that we better understand them and encourage their take up.’

Over 800,000 people live with dementia in Britain and this is expected to increase to 2 million by 2050. Currently, provision of music therapy for people with dementia is uneven across the UK and those diagnosed are often not able to access it when they need to. Pemma is one of over 800 HCPC state registered music therapists who use the unique non-verbal properties of music to support people at all stages of their lives – from helping new born babies develop healthy bonds with their parents, to offering vital, sensitive and compassionate palliative care at the end of life.

Donald Wetherick, Chair of Trustees, says, ‘The British Association for Music Therapy is committed to ensuring that music therapy is available to all those who can benefit. This Music Therapy Week we are focusing on people with dementia and their families. Dementia care is a growing healthcare need – it is also an area where music therapist’s skills are being shown to be effective and valued. We want to see the enormous potential for music therapy in this field being realized, for the benefit of all those affected by dementia.’

Speakers include:

  • Prof. Helen Odell-Miller, Anglia Ruskin University
  • Dr. Heema Shukla, Consultant in Public Health, Public Health England
  • Shelagh Morris, Acting Chief Allied Health Professions Officer, NHS England
  • Tim McLachlan, Operations Director – Greater London, Alzheimer’s Society
  • Liz Jones, Head of Policy and Research, Methodist Homes Association
  • Prof. Justine Schneider, University of Nottingham
  • Dr. Orii McDermott, Music therapy research associate, University College London
  • Pemma Spencer-Chapman, music therapist, Guideposts Trust
  • Chris Wilson, music therapist, Methodist Homes Association

To find out how you can get involved with MTW2015, please visit www.bamt.org and support the campaign online at Facebook and Twitter using @musictherapyuk #MTW2015 #musictherapyuk

ENDS

For further information, please contact:
Grace Watts, British Association for Music Therapy
M: 07989 355338 E: pr@bamt.org





Music Therapy Week, 22 – 28 June 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                              19 June 2015

Professional body urges increase in provision of music therapy for dementia 

 David's story - 'I feel more alive and happy after each session' 

 Music Therapy Week 22 - 28 June - highlights


This year’s Music Therapy Week is focusing on the valuable role music therapy has to play in supporting people with dementia and those who care for them. Leading research has shown that music therapy can significantly improve and support the mood, alertness and engagement of people with dementia, can reduce the use of medication, as well as helping to manage and reduce agitation, isolation, depression and anxiety, overall supporting a better quality of life (Ridder et al, 2013). Music therapy can help people at all stages in their journey with dementia to enrich life and tap into the resources that people with dementia still have.

81-year-old David Jacques was diagnosed with both vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease four years ago. He has progressive short-term memory loss, experiences difficulty organizing his time and sometimes gets lost.

‘David came to his first music therapy session armed with books of folk songs and opera,’ recalls Pemma Spencer-Chapman, a music therapist at the Guideposts Trust Music Therapy Service in Oxfordshire. 'This was unusual,' she says, 'as most clients don't have any musical training. If I played or sang the melody, David could hold the tune. He sang the melodies increasingly from memory and marveled at his brain’s ability to remember them’. The brain remembers emotional experiences more easily than facts, and the emotional nature of music helps these memories come to the fore.

But it wasn’t until Pemma suggested to David to improvise with his voice while she accompanied him that a real breakthrough was made, ‘to my surprise, David sang not just a melody but words as well. Words and melody have come to him hand in hand,’ Pemma says. ‘He is surprised, pleased and empowered and I feel his identity has been strengthened in a different way, by being at the heart of the improvisation.’

‘I feel more alive and happy after each session’, David.

David’s wife, Penny, says music therapy is now the high spot of David’s week. ‘I wish that this form of therapy could be available on the NHS for everyone with dementia as it is clearly so beneficial.’

Prof. Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England – the leading representative body for independent care services in England, states, ‘Music therapy is intrinsic to enriching the quality of life for those with dementia. Recent research demonstrates the significant role it has to play in supporting a better quality of life, and that is because music taps into the resources that people with dementia still have, enabling them to maintain connections with loved ones and the world around them. But, the impact is wider reaching. Carers also see the impact that music therapy can have and thus helps them to better understand the people they are caring for, providing a higher quality of care.’

Over 800,000 people live with dementia in Britain and this is expected to increase to 2 million by 2050. Currently, provision of music therapy for people with dementia is uneven across the UK and those diagnosed are often not able to access it when they need to. Pemma is one of over 800 HCPC state registered music therapists who use the unique non-verbal properties of music to support people at all stages of their lives – from helping new born babies develop healthy bonds with their parents, to offering vital, sensitive and compassionate palliative care at the end of life.

Donald Wetherick, Chair of Trustees, says, ‘The British Association for Music Therapy is committed to ensuring that music therapy is available to all those who can benefit. This Music Therapy Week we are focusing on people with dementia and their families. Dementia care is a growing healthcare need – it is also an area where music therapist’s skills are being shown to be effective and valued. We want to see the enormous potential for music therapy in this field being realized, for the benefit of all those affected by dementia.’

Events for Music Therapy Week are taking place throughout the week from Shetland down to Truro including a parliamentary roundtable discussion sponsored by MPs Tracey Crouch and Debbie Abrahams, taster music therapy sessions, open days, exhibitions, and live improvisational gatherings.

Highlights include:

·   An open community group meeting for people with dementia, their families and carers, and improvisational session and welcoming back of puffins at Simbugh Lighthouse, Shetland, Tuesday 23 June

·        Open morning at the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability, Putney, London, Wednesday 24 June

·       Roundtable parliamentary discussion, ‘Music therapy and dementia: enriching life when it is needed most’, Portcullis House, Victoria Embankment, Thursday 25 June

·        Cornish church tower bells will peal for Music Therapy Week, Saturday 27 June

·     A week of instrument making, concerts and tea parties for the children and families at Rainbows Hospice in Loughborough, All week.


Find out more about what’s happening during Music Therapy Week 2015, view our MTW2015 Events Map.


To find out how you can get involved, please visit www.bamt.org and support the campaign online at Facebookand Twitter using @musictherapyuk #MTW2015 #musictherapyuk

ENDS

---------

For further information, please contact:

Grace Watts,

British Association for Music Therapy

M: 07989 355337

E: pr@bamt.org

Full press release can be downloaded from this page 

 

 
 15 April 2015

HCPC press release


WHAT? campaign highlights how statutory regulation of Arts therapists protects service users

The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) has launched a new campaign to promote the statutory regulation of Arts Therapists amongst employers.

The Why Hire an Arts Therapist? (WHAT?)campaign will promote the fact that Arts Therapists are a regulated profession and will also raise awareness of the legally protected titles of Art Therapist, Art Psychotherapist, Dramatherapist and Music Therapist. Anyone using one of these titles is required to meet HCPC standards for their training, professional skills,behaviour and health.

It will target organisations which employ the services of Arts Therapists,such as the NHS; private health organisations; social services; the prison service; charities; and Local Education Authorities.

An art, music or drama therapist encourages people to express their feelings and emotions through art, such as painting and drawing, music or drama. Many individual’s lives have been transformed through Arts Therapy.

Take young carer Louis for example. Aged 7, he had been suffering nightmares following a serious accident, and exhibited high levels of anxiety demonstrated by obsessive behaviour, sleeplessness and increased worry about everyday activities. Art Therapy helped Louis find peace and stopped his nightmares.

Jonathan Jones, HCPC’s Stakeholder Communications Manager said: “We have launched the WHAT? campaign in response to concerns highlighted by Arts Therapists about the apparent lack of awareness of their regulated profession. We’re working in partnership with the professional bodies to raise the profile of Arts Therapists by highlighting the benefits of using a HCPC registered professional and their work in improving the lives of service users.”

The campaign has been developed in collaboration with the British Association of Art Therapists (BAAT), the British Association for Dramatherapists (BADth) and the British Association for Music Therapy (BAMT).

For more information about the campaign and more case studies visit www.hcpc-uk.org/artstherapists or search #WHAT? on Twitter and Facebook.

For further press information and case studies about the campaign please contact Rebekah Tailor or Grant Imlach in HCPC’s press office on 020 7840 9806 or email press@hcpc-uk.org
 
 
 

4th March 2015

 

‘Music Therapy – the art and science’ exhibition opens in Wales


Following on from the successful installation of BAMT’s exhibition, ‘Music Therapy – the art and science’ at the Barbican Music Library during September and October 2015, the exhibition is being toured around the UK, with the University of South Wales being the first to host this exciting and unique exhibition outside of London. 

 ‘Music Therapy – the art and science’ presents a visual history of music therapy, with original documents, music scores, letters and influential publications that plot the development of music therapy in the UK.

Liz Coombes, Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader for the music therapy masters at the University of South Wales said, “We are delighted to be the first venue outside London to host this exciting exhibition. The MA Music Therapy course here at USW is the only one of its kind in Wales, and we hope that this event, will enable those interested in this therapy to come along and learn more about its very wide application. The VIP launch of this exhibition will take place on 5th March and USW is delighted to welcome Dr. Philippa Derrington from Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh to give a prestigious talk on this occasion. This is open to the public and is free of charge.”

Drawing on the rich experiences of music therapists and service users, their families and carers, the exhibition is a fantastic opportunity to learn about music therapy and understand the impact it has on our lives. 

Donald Wetherick, Chair of the British Association for Music Therapy said the exhibition demonstrates powerfully the role music therapists play in supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our society every day.

'I am delighted that the University of South Wales is hosting the BAMT Exhibition ‘Music Therapy – the art and science’. Music therapy in the UK has a history going back over 50 years, yet the public rarely get the chance to hear about music therapy and how it contributes to the wellbeing of people with different health and care needs.

This exhibition gives a rich insight into the history of the profession and some of the fields in which music therapists work, and I hope many people will see it and be inspired by the potential of music therapy to make a real difference to people’s lives.’ The exhibition launches formally on Thursday 5th March with a guest lecture by Dr. Philippa Derrington from Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh. To book a place for this free event, please email events@southwales.ac.uk 

Media contact: 

Grace Watts, British Association for Music Therapy M: 07989 355338 E: pr@bamt.org 

Notes:

 1. The British Association for Music Therapy is the professional body for music therapy in the UK, providing both practitioners and non-practitioners with information, professional support, training opportunities. It is also a charity committed to promoting and raising awareness of music therapy and providing information to the general public. BAMT aims to raise awareness about the impact of music therapy, advance education in music therapy and act as a voice for the profession as well as for those who could benefit from music therapy. 

 2. For more information, visit http://www.bamt.org or e-mail: info@bamt.org or call us on 020 7837 6100. Join us on Facebook – British Association for Music Therapy and follow us on Twitter @musictherapyuk

3. For more information about the University of South Wales and the music therapy masters course, please see http://courses.southwales.ac.uk/courses/1233-ma-music-therapy 

 4. For information about the launch event on Thursday 5th March, please contactevents@southwales.ac.uk 

5. The University of South Wales was created in April 2013 as a result of a merger between the University of Glamorgan and the University of Wales, Newport. The institution is among the top 10 campus-based universities in the UK with more than 30,000 students, and offers over 600 programmes of study. 
www.southwales.ac.uk

 

New HCPC app for registrants launched

myHCPC app delivers standards and guidance to registrants at the touch of a button


myHCPC is a new app delivering the latest information, guidance and news updates from the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) straight to your mobile device.

The app has been created with health and care professionals in mind, specifically for registrants of the HCPC as well as students and prospective registrants. Key features include mobile-friendly access to HCPC standards; guidance on HCPC registration; resources for registrants; plus the latest social media content via YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

The easy-to-use application is free to download and is available for both Apple and Android smartphones and tablets.

The launch of myHCPC follows the HCPC’s first mobile app introduced in 2011. Aimed at the general public and enabling service users to learn more about how to raise a concern, this app allows instant access to the HCPC
Register on the go.

Tony Glazier, Web and Digital Manager of the Health and Care Professions Council, said:

"The myHCPC app has been created especially with registrants in mind. It delivers our standards in a mobile format, as well as guidance relating to CPD and registration at the touch of a button. We want to encourage
professionals to download the app to ‘make it your HCPC’."

Make it your HCPC: five key features

1) Guidance: advice and resources at your fingertips
2) Standards: access HCPC standards on the go
3) Latest news: regular updates from the HCPC
4) Social media: keep up-to-date via Twitter, Facebook and YouTube
5) Get involved: event highlights and more

To find out more about the key features of myHCPC and how you can benefit from using the app, search #myHCPC via Twitter and Facebook.

A brand new YouTube video demonstrating the five key features of myHCPC is now available to watch and share: http://youtu.be/SwUKgr6EZdI