Dementia Project Reaches National Audience

A successful project in Essex that was found to benefit people with dementia and their carers is being presented at a national music therapy conference today.

The Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research (CIMTR), at Anglia Ruskin University, partnered with Saffron Hall, in Saffron Walden, to offer weekly music therapy sessions for people with dementia and their carers. Pilot data from the first ten weeks showed extremely high (100%) satisfaction levels among participants.

Researchers at CIMTR found that all participants enjoyed singing together, sharing their experiences and playing instruments together. Several respondents also indicated the sessions left them feeling “full of joy” and surprised at what they could achieve.

The Together in Sound project will be presented at the biennial conference of the British Association for Music Therapy at the Barbican, London, taking place this weekend (16-18 February). Anglia Ruskin University academics will also presents on issues such as mental health; how music therapy can help the rehabilitation of stroke patients; autism spectrum disorder; and music and the brain.

The conference will also feature a screening of the new documentary ‘Operation Syncopation’ based on Professor Amelia Oldfield’s research for children with autism spectrum disorder. The documentary won the Silver Punt award at the recent Cambridge Film Festival.

Researchers at CIMTR are working with international collaborators and partners to further explore the benefits of music therapy on dementia sufferers.

Professor Helen Odell-Miller OBE, Professor of Music Therapy at Anglia Ruskin University, said: “In areas like Saffron Walden the percentage of the population with dementia is well above the national average and our partnership with Saffron Hall on this initiative was ground-breaking.

“We are delighted that it has made a positive difference to the wellbeing of some of the participants. Our aim now is to collaborate with organisations at home and abroad to ensure that research into this area can improve as many lives as possible.

“Anglia Ruskin is carrying out a wide range of research within the field of music therapy which touches on a whole spectrum of issues. It is great to see so many of our academics being able to present their world-leading work at this national event.”