Music therapy initiative is continuing online following COVID-19 restrictions
An important initiative to provide music therapy for those living with dementia is continuing despite the COVID-19 restrictions, with participants instead making music from the comfort of their own homes.
Together in Sound, a partnership between Saffron Hall Trust and the Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), has been delivering music therapy for couples – those living with dementia and their partner or carer – in Saffron Walden since 2017.
Because of recent social distancing measures introduced to help tackle COVID-19, the team behind Together in Sound have switched their weekly sessions to online.
Recent sessions have also involved musicians from the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s Future First scheme – the LPO has a residency at Saffron Hall – and the couples taking part have been delighted to be able to continue their weekly music therapy over the internet.
Caroline Halsey, who accompanies her dad, Don, said after the first online session:
Claire Molyneux, Senior Lecturer in Music Therapy at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) who leads the sessions, said:
“It was very moving to observe participants recognise, engage with each other, and respond to the various musical interactions we offered via their screens. This continuation of the bonds they have made with each other in the music therapy sessions is vital in the face of the increased isolation that COVID-19 has brought.”
Katie McKinnon, Saffron Hall’s Learning and Participation Coordinator, added:
“We wondered whether some of the social aspect would be lost due to the barriers of cameras and laptops, but via our devices we were able to wave to and greet each other as usual, make music, share jokes and stories and cheer each other on.
“It seems Together in Sound will be a beacon of hope and something to look forward to in these isolation months, just as it is described by our participants in its usual form. Together in Sound are a community who rely on each other and lift each other up, and ensuring the high quality of life and well-being created by being part of a supportive community is more important than ever in these uncertain times.”
Professor Helen Odell-Miller OBE, Director of the Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), said:
ARU’s Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research is also currently adapting the five-country research project Homeside, which is funded by Alzheimer’s Society UK and aims to recruit over 400 couples, so that music and reading activities can be delivered online as part of the research.
Professor Odell-Miller added: