Expanding a Care Network for People with Dementia and their Carers Through Musicking: Participant Observation with “Singing for the Brain”
Music use in dementia care often takes place within a music therapy context, where music therapy sessions aim to reduce agitated behaviour, access emotions or enhance inter-personal communication. Such sessions usually take place within care homes and their effect has been evaluated by a number of studies. However, there is little research on music use that takes place outside of care homes (e.g. in community centres) for people with dementia who are cared for at home by their family.
This paper discusses this type of music use, focusing on the meaning of weekly local music making activities in relation to every day dementia care. I use empirical data from a study of a community based music activity called "Singing for the Brain" (SFTB) run by the Alzheimer's Society in the UK. The data was collected through extensive participant observation research and interviews with organisers, carers and care receivers. The preliminary findings from the data analysis are discussed: how SFTB can be seen as a ecological practice; its various “spin-off’ effects in the everyday care of the members with dementia; how SFTB, together with other local music groups, constitute the music and care world in the town; and how this develops into fluid support networks to support local people with dementia and their carers.
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