Research by Kent & Medway NHS

10 Jan 2014

Research by Kent & Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust

Proves the Medical and Care Cases for Singing Therapy in Dementia Care


19 December 2013: The UK registered charity, Sing For Your Life has released the findings of a joint three month research study by Kent & Medway NHS Partnership Trust.

The research into ‘the benefit of participatory singing as an activity for people living with dementia and other age related long term conditions’, was overseen by Alison Culverwell, Head of Older People’s Psychological Services at Kent and Medway NHS Partnership Trust.

The objective of the research was to establish whether or not the use of regular singing sessions would impact positively on the patients in the Continuing Care Unit; their families and the staff.

Key highlights of the Kent & Medway NHS Partnership Trust Silver Song Club Music Box research project were:

·         Enabled patients to engage in the sessions in a variety of positive ways irrespective of their physical or language abilities

·         Levels of challenging behaviour were reduced during the trial period by more than 50%.

·         Enhanced carers ability to provide person-to-person centred care and to learn more about their patients

·         Allowed patients to use skills and reconnect with personal memories and hobbies

·         Had a noticeable improvement on the mood and well being of the patients, staff and visitors to the ward

·         Increased social interaction

The findings demonstrated that the Silver Song Club Music Box, which was used to facilitate the structured singing sessions, helped patients to engage positively, irrespective of their physical or communication ability. Levels of challenging behaviour were reduced during the trial period by more than 50%.

During the singing sessions, staff found they were able to provide enhanced person-centred-care because the environment stimulated social interaction, therefore enabling staff to learn more about their patients. The singing, in many instances, helped patients to communicate and triggered personal memories, which enhanced mood and social involvement.

Staff were encouraged to use the Silver Song Music Box, provided by the charity, Sing For Your Life, on a regular basis and at times when episodes of challenging behaviour were likely to occur. It was also suggested that the music box should be used at ward parties and other social events as an alternative test environment.

Improvements in mood and social engagement were frequently noted for patients, relatives and staff. It was also noted by staff and relatives how the ward atmosphere changed and relatives were moved to see their often ‘locked-in’ family member enjoying themselves and remembering old songs. For many, the Silver Song Club Music Box encouraged them to communicate for the first time in many years.

The lessons learnt from the research indicates that the regular provision of singing activities can have significant impact on wellbeing and reduce levels of risk to patients and staff significantly.

The summary conclusion was that the provision / attendance of regular Silver Song Box Music sessions can have a significant impact on patient wellbeing. There may also be a global impact on “ward atmosphere” as a result of the positive interactions between patients, carers and relatives.

The Silver Song Music Box has the potential, in some instances to replace antipsychotic drugs, both in terms of enhancing mood and reducing incidents of challenging behaviour.

“Once again, medical research has proved that participatory singing is an intervention which will assist a person with dementia to communicate. They might not sing, but they are likely to interact in some way to the music which is a positive experience for them. A moment of lucidity and calm,” explained Stuart Brown, founder of Sing For Your Life.

Since the trial, Kent and Medway NHS Partnership Trust has purchased four Silver Song Club Music Boxes. Hosted Silver Song Clubs are now regularly used by a range of NHS facilities and care homes across the UK, Europe and Canada.

Note to editors

About Sing For Your Life

Sing For Your Life is a registered UK charity. It is involved with the design, production, co-ordination and delivery of participatory musical content. This is delivered worldwide to care homes and hospitals through its Silver Song Clubs, its Silver Song Music Box, its Mustard Seed Singers and its Online Music Therapy Video Libraries.

In the summer, Sing For Your Life received a Lottery Award having been voted for by the UK public in recognition of the major contribution the charity has made to so many. One of the significant outcomes of the Silver Song Clubs and the soon to be available mobile Silver Music Box singing sessions, is the empowerment that it gives to people who are no longer able to enjoy the skills and hobbies they once took for granted.

Sing For Your Life on iPad is the precursor to the launch of Sing For Your Life Music Box App on iPad, iPhone and Google Android, an assistive technology App, due for release in early 2014.

Versions for the growing number of Punjabi, Burmese and Gujarati speakers living with dementia in the UK will also be made available next year.

Further information about Sing For Your Life

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