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Research shows music and movement hits right note with care home residents | About | University of Stirling

A pilot study by the University of Stirling has found that music and movement can have a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of care home residents – and could lead to similar activities being rolled out on a wider scale.

The study, conducted by researchers from the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, in partnership with wellbeing, arts and fitness company danceSing Care, followed 47 residents from 10 Balhousie Care Group homes across Scotland over a period of 12 weeks as they evoked memories and improved their mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.

Residents and caregivers got their toes tapping, hands clapping and voices singing as they enjoyed digital music and movement resources created by the danceSing Care team in consultation with NHS healthcare professionals.

Over the study period, residents joined the online danceSing Care sessions four times per week, where they were encouraged to take part in a variety of fun and meaningful activities including everything from chair and standing fitness, music and singing, bespoke Memory Lane radio shows, and musical concerts.

Benefits: Balhousie reported that the collective mood of residents visibly improved during danceSing sessions. 

The sessions proved increasingly popular as the weeks went on, and a range of benefits and improvements to residents’ wellbeing have been reported.

Academics looked at a number of aspects of participants’ health and wellbeing, spanning anxiety and depression, stress and loneliness, sleep satisfaction, and indications of frailty such as appetite and unintentional weight loss. The study showed improvements in a number of areas.

Balhousie Care Group also reported that the collective mood of the residents was visibly improved during the sessions. Even those participants who were demotivated at the beginning were visibly happier by the end of the session, or those not actively taking part still enjoyed the benefits of being present while the session took place.

The numerous benefits and joy from the danceSing Care sessions were exemplified in moments such as one resident, after being hospitalised, returning to the home and immediately asking to take part in a danceSing Care session. As the programme progressed, residents waited in the lounge for the sessions to start, showing enthusiasm and excitement.

It was noted that residents participated more in each movement session as the weeks went on, with visible improvements in physical strength. Staff members commented that the success of the programme was visible in the residents’ “eyes, smiles and more smiles”, and one resident described the mood-boosting music sessions as being “good for the soul”.

The study also identified challenges to delivering the programme, such as staff time and availability of suitable technology, so solutions to these can be incorporated into any future activity.

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