Therapy brings back musical memories

Oxford Mail: From left, Beech Haven Care Home residents Iris Clarke, 83, Marion Eales,101, and Alice Painting, 90, watched by Chipping Norton Theatre’s Anne Gill, music therapist Becky Dowson and home manager Denise Herrin Buy this photo » From left, Beech Haven Care Home residents Iris Clarke, 83, Marion Eales,101, and Alice Painting, 90, watched by Chipping Norton Theatre’s Anne Gill, music therapist Becky Dowson and home manager Denise Herrin

A THEATRE group in Chipping Norton is hoping music will help trigger the memories of people living with dementia.

The Theatre, in Spring Street, has received funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation to provide weekly music therapy sessions for a number of local care homes.

The scheme will be introduced to residents at Southerndown Care Home in Worcester Road, Henry Cornish Care Centre in Rockhill Farm Court and Beech Haven Care Home in Burford Road.

Anne Gill, The Theatre’s ‘Take Part’ director, said: “We are very excited about this programme and at the prospect of taking music into these care homes for the benefit of many elderly residents, including those with dementia.”

“In 2008 we took a group of musicians into care homes with some amazing results.

“People visibly relaxed when music was played and you could see in their faces that they had been transported back to memories and emotions they had not felt for a long time. Residents talked about dances they had been to, they sang along and even got up and danced.

“It moved some people who saw it to tears. Now this new 12-week project will work in three care homes in Chipping Norton, encouraging residents to participate, interact with the therapist and others in the group and enhance their quality of life.”

Music therapist Becky Dowson, 25, from Oxford, will be leading the sessions each week between February 5 and May 3.

She said: “After an initial visit and introduction to staff this month we will be asking them to refer residents to the music therapy sessions. These people may have dementia, they may be isolated, or unable to communicate.

“Through a mixture of songs from the war, some jazz and classical music, along with the opportunity to play tambourines and even xylophones and drums, people will be able to open up and join together, perhaps remembering how they loved to sing or listen to music, or even played an instrument.”

Each care home will receive 12, weekly 45-minute sessions, with the final session open to relatives and other residents.

Denise Herrin, manager of Beech Haven Care Home in Burford Road said: “We are looking forward to the positive experience music therapy can bring.”

The Theatre will leave behind instruments which each home’s residents have responded to best.

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