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Music to the ears of dementia residents

Our Chief Inspector visited a Blackwood care home using music to boost residents’ well-being.

(Left to right) Jean (resident); Philip May (Pianist, Music in Hospitals); Robert Aitken (Director of Music in Hospitals); Marie (resident); Rachel Marsh (Soprano); Chief Inspector Imelda Richardson; Betty (resident).

“Well-being” is the word on the lips of everyone in care and support services this year, and following the recent passing of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act into law, the focus was on Blackwood in Gwent today as Chief Inspector Imelda Richardson paid a visit to Glan-yr-Afon residential care and nursing home in Blackwood.

The home is one of the participating venues in the programme of intimate concerts organised by Music in Hospitals (external link), a charity improving the quality of life of adults and children through the joy and therapeutic benefits of professionally-performed music.

The Chief Inspector was joined by Robert Aitken, Director of Music in Hospitals Cymru/Wales and Arleen Testa, manager of Glan-yr-Afon to accompany residents for a concert performed by classically trained Welsh National Opera Soprano Rachel Marsh and Pianist Philip May. 

Concerts like the one at Glan-yr-Afon are currently being performed across Wales thanks to additional funding from Postcode Community Trust. (external link)

In addition, the impact of music on those with brain diseases are currently part of a study commissioned by the charity. The research is being conducted by Dr Nigel Marshall of Sussex University and Dr Kagari Shibazaki from Seirei Christopher University, Hanamatsu, Japan. 

Chief Inspector Imelda Richardson said:

Care home residents should have access to high-quality activities and events; sharing in these experiences which enrich their lives.

The ability of music to enhance their wellbeing, stimulate memories and connect with others cannot be underestimated.

Activities which allow residents to enjoy being part of a community and share experiences are a key to how we develop regulation and inspection changes in Wales. 

I hope programmes like those offered by Music in Hospitals become commonplace as we develop more care focussed on people in Wales.

Robert Aitken, Director of Music in Hospitals Cymru/Wales said:

We know music has a powerful and significant effect on residents in care homes and patients in hospitals and our research shows that there is a very clear evidence of an innate understanding of music in people with advanced brain disease, even when other forms of understanding have been virtually neutralised.

It’s a joy to see residents overcoming some of their communication and physical limitations to absorb themselves in the music and to enjoy themselves via the universal language of music.

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