Analysing the Use of Music to Facilitate Social Interaction in Care Home Residents With Dementia: Narrative Synthesis Systematic Review


Dementia (London)




INTRODUCTION: Individuals with dementia residing in care homes can rely heavily on care staff to access activities and meaningful interactions. Previous research suggests that care home interactions can be short, fragmented and task-orientated due to staff workload and residents' language impairments. However, music has the potential to be an alternative communication form that remains intact in the later stages of dementia. This systematic review aims to explore how care home music interventions can facilitate social interactions. METHODS: A narrative synthesis was conducted to explore the mechanisms behind how and why care home music intervention facilitate social interactions. The four-element framework guided analysis; (1) Developing a theory, (2) Developing a preliminary synthesis, (3) Exploring relationships, (4) Assessing robustness. FINDINGS: The final synthesis included 23 articles. The studies consisted of music therapy sessions, personalised music listening, structured music singing or instrument playing sessions and music therapeutic care. Despite the difference in music interventions, most studies reported an increase in residents' sociable verbal and non-verbal communication and a decrease in unsociable communication. Music interventions allowed residents to reminisce, express themselves, focus and connect with others. DISCUSSION: The studies highlighted music interventions are accessible to all residents with dementia despite their impairments. The adaptability allows individuals to continue to connect and express themselves even when language deteriorates. More research is needed into the enablers and barriers to implementing interventions into practice, as this systematic review has highlighted that some form of music intervention for all residents can be highly beneficial. Care homes use of music could increase social interactions and meaningful activities.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Alzheimer's and Related Dementias; Elderly; Interpersonal Relations; Long-Term Care Facility; Music Therapy; Neurodegenerative Disorders

Indexed Terms

Dementia; Nursing Homes; Social Interaction; care homes; care staff; dementia; music activities; social behaviour

Study Type

Systematic Review; Quantitative Methods

PubMed ID


Document Type