The Role of Participatory Music Making in Supporting People With Dementia in Hospital Environments


Dementia (London)




Background Improving the quality of care for people with dementia in general hospitals is a key priority. Creative activities including music have been examined for their potential role in enhancing quality of life for people with dementia, although relatively few studies have evaluated their use in acute hospital settings. Methods A mixed methods study examined the effects of a ten week period of weekly music sessions on the wellbeing of patients with dementia and on the ward environment in an acute elderly care service in a UK hospital. Potential effects of the music project on the ward environment were examined by comparing descriptive quantitative ward level data for two equivalent time periods, one with music and one with no music. The impact of the activity on participants' wellbeing was assessed using observational data as well as semi-structured interviews and focus groups with patients, visitors, the musician and staff. Results Ward level data were available for 85 patients with a dementia diagnosis who had stayed on the wards during the study periods. Comparison between the two periods showed a number of differences between the music and the non-music time periods, including a reduction in prescription of antipsychotic drugs. However, many factors could have contributed to the differences in the ward environment. Observational data revealed nuanced responses to music and suggested that participants generally enjoyed the activity. The impacts of music making were mediated strongly by staff responses and hospital organisation. Conclusion Data from this limited pilot study suggest that music is a useful intervention for enhancing patient and staff experiences and improving care in acute dementia care environments. The suggestion that use of anti-psychotic drugs may be reduced when music is present warrants further research.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Alzheimer's and Related Dementias; Elderly; Hospital Setting; Interviews; Medication Use; Mental Health; Neurodegenerative Disorders; Quality of Life; Wellness and Well-Being

Indexed Terms

Elderly; Dementia; Focus Groups; Geriatrics; Hospitals, General; Patient Participation; Pilot Projects; Qualitative Research; Quality of Life; United Kingdom; dementia care; hospital; qualitative; ward environment

Study Type

Mixed Methods

PubMed ID


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