I aim to raise £2,000 to enable the planning and development stages of my PhD research exploring whether live music can enhance an acute hospital ward for patients with dementia and their carers.
Dementia is a major world-wide public health issue; in the UK there are currently around 820,000 people with dementia. The Alzheimer's Society found that up to 1 in 4 beds in General Hospitals in England, Wales, and N.Ireland, are occupied by people with dementia, and that dementia appeared to worsen in 54% of patients during their hospital stay (Alzheimer's Society, 2009).
Systematic literature searches have shown that there is a growing number of studies relating to the benefits of music for people with dementia in long-term care. However, there are no studies which explore the effects of musical interventions for patients with dementia in acute healthcare.
Who am i?
My PhD research builds on my experience of working in acute hospitals as an arts provider and coordinator over the past 5 years. I want to explore some issues in depth that I have experienced through my work and through my pilot study as part of my MA in Music Psychology at the University of Sheffield.
My main area of research is to explore the role of music for enhancing wellbeing in an acute hospital ward for patients with dementia. I will focus on the following issues to explore the area of wellbeing in more depth: can music have a calming effect on an often busy ward environment? Can music reduce agitation in patients with dementia? Can music improve the patient experience for someone living with dementia? Alongside this, I would like to add to the research into how to actively involve patients with dementia in research, including the challenges faced and lessons learned whilst conducting my own research.
Through my work as a musician at a number of hospitals, I have seen firsthand the benefits of live music in an acute hospital ward. For patients with dementia, music seems to have a calming effect; it can stimulate memories and can help to create an atmosphere that promotes a sense of security within an otherwise busy and frightening environment. Often patients’ faces will light up when they hear the music - a nurse once commented that a patient was the most animated they had seen him whilst I played music. Patients engage with the music, often by tapping their feet and clapping, or talking about memories associated with a particular piece. I am interested to understand not only what music might be able to facilitate, but more theoretically how music benefits patients with dementia.
In the UK there are around 820,000 people with dementia. One in fourteen people over 65 years of age and one in six people over 80 years of age has some form of dementia. It is estimated that by 2021 there will be one million people with dementia in the UK. This is expected to rise to over 1.7 million people with dementia by 2051. (Alzheimer’s Society).
If my research shows that live music can benefit patients with dementia, other hospitals across the UK may want to use music as part of their care for patients with dementia. There may be a link with an improvement in patients' quality of life, and length of stay in hospital. My research could open up the pathway for larger projects exploring this area and the direct benefits for the NHS.