Anglia Ruskin University
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Embedding music and music therapy in care pathways for people with dementia in the 21st century - a position paper

journal contribution
posted on 2023-08-30, 18:15 authored by Helen Odell-Miller
Unique music therapy interventions are discussed from a clinical educational and research perspective, demonstrating a current position on music therapy for people living with dementia and their carers. The position paper, adapted from the keynote lecture given at the workshop Music Selves and Societies at Cambridge University 2018, outlines current research and practice across music and music therapy fields, focussing upon embedding music in daily life and care for people living with dementia. Worldwide, around 50 million people have dementia; this is estimated to increase to 75.6 million in 2030 and 135.5 million in 2050. This results in increased demand for long-term care and a need for heightened awareness and capacity for home care in local settings. Distinctions between interventions delivered by music therapists (direct music therapy), and interventions delivered by musicians or carers arising from training from music therapists (indirect music therapy), are discussed. Political and strategic developments for music and dementia are summarised, highlighting the need for increased training in the field and access to music at all stages of dementia. Case study examples are presented to highlight emerging practices and research; for example, couples attending music therapy groups in a rural community setting (Together in Sound) improved relationships and attitudes for people living with dementia. An international trial investigating reading and music interventions for people living with dementia and their home-based family carers (Homeside) is introduced, alongside practice and research in care homes where music therapy can reduce agitation and improve carers’ wellbeing. Research shows music therapy interventions address personalised needs linked to daily, lived experiences. However, indirect music therapy is needed to reach all who can benefit from music and are living with dementia. It is concluded high quality, accessible music interventions require to be embedded in care, and further research is needed to ascertain best practice.



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Music & Science





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  • Accepted version


  • eng

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Faculty of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

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