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Music Therapy with the Elderly

MusicSpace has just started a 2 year project that will significantly expand and develop the music therapy service for the elderly in Bristol and the surrounding area.

Music therapy is a well-established positive intervention for effective work with the elderly. Bristol MusicSpace is in a unique position in that is able to offer sessions in a newly refurbished building, as well as outreach sessions withtin the wider community. Preliminary outreach work with the elderly has already taken place health, social services, residential and community settings.

As a charity it is our policy to subsidise some sessions so that money does not become the determining factor as to whether someone can receive music therapy or not. To this end we have set up an Access Fund to support those people who would benefit from music therapy but who are unable to meet the full cost of the sessions.

This project aims to:

  • Raise awareness of the effectiveness of music therapy as an intervention for this client group with health-care professionals, carers, and staff in residential and day care settings.

  • Establish defined programmes for the provision of music therapy to:

    • Elderly people with mental health problems such as dementia. Music therapy offers an opportunity for communication and expression, particularly when language has become confused.

    • Elderly people who are suffering from depression due to isolation or bereavement. The shared music making experience offered in music therapy can help reduce isolation, and provide an opportunity for expression of difficult feelings.

    • Elderly people who are terminally ill and receiving palliative care. Music can soothe and touch the emotions in a unique way. Music therapy can help clients find that they are able to be creative and discover new ways of expressing themselves, even when other parts of their lives are becoming more limited.

  • Provide training in the therapeutic use of music for carers, healthcare professionals and staff in residential, social and care settings. This will be in the form of experiential workshops, that explain to staff and carers the principles and benefits of music therapy for the elderly. Workshops will also be provided for staff who wish to use music in their work with the elderly.

  • Evaluate these services in order to inform and facilitate future action. Two of the projects due to start in the second year will have a research element on clinical effectiveness. The results of these will be used to inform managers of the benefits of music therapy.

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