The aim of the research into Music and Dementia is to investigate the practice of music workshops for elderly people with dementia and their carers. In order to do this the Research Group is looking into the work of Music for Life Wigmore Hall and Dementia UK, in association with Jewish Care. This consists of a series of interactive music workshops in care homes and day care centres for people with dementia. The research project is aimed at the development of the practice for musicians. After a preparatory phase during which a literature study was done and interviews were held, the research project started officially in London in 2010.
Research on location
In the period between October and December 2010 a Music for Life project was researched that consisted of eight consecutive workshops in a care home in the UK, led by the organisation Jewish Care. Three musicians and the staff development practitioner were involved. The research was set up in a triangulated way so the practice could be researched from different perspectives. It consisted of:
Observation of each workshop
Narrative thematic interviews with the musicians as group
Narrative expert interviews with the workshop leader and the staff development practitioner
Reflective journals, kept by the musicians and the staff development practitioner
A symposium was held about the research results on 20 September 2012 at Wigmore Hall, London.
Kate Page, former project manager of Music for Life and researcher for the Research Group, observed the workshops and held the majority of the interviews. Rineke Smilde was present during the first, the fourth and the last workshop where she did the observations and the interviews together with Kate. The data have been processed and analysed. The outcomes will appear in a book under the title 'While the Music Lasts - on Music and Dementia', written by the researchers involved.
Researchers: dr. Rineke Smilde, Kate Page (MMus, freelance researcher) and prof. dr. dr. Peter Alheit (University of Goettingen, Germany).
Interview with Linda Rose and Kate Page
Backgrounds and objectives
The focus of the research project Music and Dementia lies especially on the work, seen from the perspective of the musicians. The outcomes will serve as a basis for the training and development of musicians who would like to specialise in this practice. A deep understanding of the context of dementia care is indispensable for the musicians in this. The follow-up trajectory in the Netherlands will consist of setting up educational programmes based on this research, which will then be put into practice. This will also happen in close collaboration with Wigmore Hall Learining.
Music for Life
Music for Life was developed by Linda Rose during a period of almost twenty years, as an organisation which sets up interactive music workshops in care homes and day care centres for people with dementia. In a project of eight weeks three professional musicians work with a group of eight residents and five carers. They use musical improvisation as a catalyst to bring about communication in its widest sense. Musicians and carers work together as a team and make use of a wide range of verbal and non-verbal approaches which support the participants and the group as a whole. Individual involvement and group involvement of both residents and carers is stimulated. Enjoying the process and reflection on the process by the carers are seen as important elements of the work.
The long-term influences of the work for residents as well as for carers are also determined by the motivation, observation and insights of the carers. Research shows that musical communication as it takes place in the workshops of Music for Life has a positive effect on people with dementia. The Music for Life projects also show that musical communication can make an important contribution to the interaction between residents of the care home and their carers, which is often intensified on an implicit, non-verbal level. The development of the carers in relation to the project happens parallel to the project, among others in collaboration with Jewish Care and Dementia UK (both national charities) that work together with Wigmore Hall Learning.
Transfer to the Netherlands
Work like that of Music for Life does not exist in the Netherlands yet, while the number of people with dementia is increasing. Working with elderly people, and also with those with dementia, can be an important new area of professional practice for (future) musicians.