Therapeutic Music Interventions With People With Dementia Living in Residential Aged Care: Perspectives of Residents, Family Members and Care Home Staff from a Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial


International Journal of Older People Nursing




BACKGROUND: Despite growing support for the benefits of music interventions in dementia care, the perspectives of people with dementia, their families and carers are often missing from the research. This study explored multiple perspectives and first-person experiences of group music interventions delivered within a large cluster randomised controlled trial examining the effectiveness of group music therapy (GMT) and recreational choir singing (RCS) with people with dementia living in residential-aged care (RAC) settings. METHODS: Focus group and individual interviews with residents with dementia (n = 4), family members (n = 5) and care home staff (n = 15) were conducted following completion of the 6-month GMT and/or RCS intervention and analysed using inductive thematic analysis. FINDINGS: Three main themes were identified as follows: (1) direct and indirect intrapersonal benefits, (2) direct and indirect interpersonal benefits and (3) therapeutic music interventions versus entertainment. GMT and RCS supported residents' mood, enjoyment, engagement and connectedness to self and others within and post-sessions, with flow-on effects to family members, care staff and the care home environment. Participants differentiated GMT and RCS from other forms of music engagement in the RAC facilities and described feelings of post-programme loss, highlighting ongoing meaning in active therapeutic music interventions. CONCLUSION: This research highlights the need for increased access to sustainable and meaningful activities, such as purposefully designed therapeutic music interventions in RAC. Improving knowledge about the distinct benefits of therapeutic music interventions compared with other forms of music engagement in RAC may assist nursing staff to make appropriate treatment planning decisions regarding therapeutic music programmes to meet the complex needs of residents with dementia.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Alzheimer's and Related Dementias; Caregivers; Community Music Experience; Elderly; Engagement Level; Interpersonal Relations; Interviews; Long-Term Care Facility; Mood; Music Therapy; Neurodegenerative Disorders; Recreative Music Methods

Indexed Terms

Elderly; Dementia; Family; Quality of Life; dementia; focus group; person-centred practice; residential-aged care

Study Type

Randomized Controlled; Trial; Quantitative Methods

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