Some families and friends are even timing visits for just after the sessions as their loved ones are more relaxed and responsive than at other times.
The structured group sessions are being held at Colten Care’s Fernhill home in Longham and The Aldbury in Parkstone, Poole.
The techniques include playing a sequence of Himalayan and pure quartz crystal bowls to create harmonic notes at specific frequencies in tune with the way the brain interprets and responds to sound waves.
As residents ‘tune in’ to the vibrations, they appear to achieve a calming decluttering of the brain which leads to a more relaxed mood.
The sessions are led by Sandra Chattaway, a sound therapy practitioner based in Bournemouth.
Sandra, who has a Sound Therapy Diploma from Chichester University accredited by BAST, the British Academy of Sound Therapists, said: “You can see the residents becoming calmer within minutes. The more frequently the sessions are held, the quicker they appear to respond. Their brains recognise the sounds and they are predisposed to be responsive to the benefits.”
The sessions finish with a slow, gentle process of percussion with soft bells and Aboriginal rain sticks which residents are typically fascinated to touch and feel.
“The percussion instruments are used as a grounding process to bring people gently round,” said Sandra. “It’s really interesting to see people at the end of each session. It’s evident that residents get a great deal out of the treatment judging by their response.”
Such is the success of the therapy so far, it is hoped to explore the possibility of a formal clinical study on the benefits.
Sandra added: “If we can prove this is effective for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia it would be quite revolutionary.”
Denise Arthur-Briskham, Home Manager at The Aldbury, who introduced Sandra to Colten Care, said she was unaware of sound therapy of this kind being done in other dementia care homes in the UK.
Denise said: “The sessions help residents relax which has obvious benefits for them. Feedback from relatives shows that they notice their loved ones are calmer, more lucid and less agitated afterwards. Indeed, some relatives deliberately time their visits following the sessions because they know the residents will feel better.”
June Gallagher, Colten Care Operations Manager, said: “We are using sound therapy in two of our dementia homes with residents who are more advanced on their journeys. The positive difference it is making to them and their relatives is really evident.”
Colten Care has produced a short film about its approach to dementia care which features on its YouTube channel – www.youtube.com/coltencare. The film includes Sandra and June talking about the sound therapy sessions.
Colten Care runs 19 care homes across Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire. Its services include residential, nursing, respite and dementia care. The family-run group is determined to set the highest standards in all aspects of care for the elderly.