Skovgården is a dementia centre for 66 residents, all of whom have a dementia disease. In addition, there is a day centre for persons with dementia who live at home. There is close collaboration between the day centre and the dementia centre, which creates a familiarity that makes the transition from living in one’s own home to moving into Skovgården much easier for residents as well as staff. They know each other. Song and music is also an important part of the transition. Song and music are generally an important part of daily life in Skovgården in caring for the residents, day centre users and their families.
Here at Skovgården, we use music because we participated in and provided data for an exciting Ph.D. research project done by Aase Marie Ottesen. It shows that music has great significance for persons with dementia – and that it improves their quality of life and social skills.
We use song and music because the mind of the person with dementia can often be in a state of confusion. By using song and music, this state of confusion can be replaced by something familiar and pleasant. When music is used in a relevant way, the confusion of the individual with dementia is often replaced by calm and balance. The use of song and music can also bring a sense of community, which is a basic human need - also for persons with a dementia disease.
Music is used in the here and now, when the need arises – we seize the moment and consider the needs of the individual. Music is also used in personal care and in difficult situations, to create a good relationship and a different approach to the person with dementia. There are many examples of situations where music has meant very much to residents; for example, when aggressive behavior is met with song and music, and is slowly, but surely, transformed to positive and accommodating behaviour. Music is also used as a method to regulate arousal, which is seen as improved quality of life and greater joy for the residents. The staff’s use of music is important for the residents, but at the same time, the staff reports that it makes their own daily work more pleasant.
Our decision to be a part of this research project has brought many positive discoveries. It has meant very much to us that we are a part of trying out new methods and creation of new and important research in the area. We are proud of our influence on an area of research that interests us very much. We have also found that our residents/users enjoy being a part of the project. They contribute with songwriting, which has helped to strengthen relationships, and which they are very involved in, creating joy and pride. Family members find that their spouse with dementia can tell them about the songwriting, and they can feel how this brings them joy and quality of life. Therefore, the family members are also very happy that Skovgården is a part of the research project.