By Graeme Pope
It is incredibly frustrating, when you have first-hand experience of the benefits of music therapy for the elderly, yet, time and time again you witness staff being thwarted in their attempts to provide the best quality resources for those in their care, by the managers who hold the purse strings.
Wherever I go as I travel the country, knocking on the doors of nursing homes and aged care units, the Aged Care Music Resources program I am introducing is met with incredible enthusiasm by the lifestyle and activities staff. The staff at the coal face are the ones who know what works for their residents. They know the value of a well packaged, versatile and adaptable program such as this.
They also know that, having this resource at their disposal will free them from time spent researching and downloading appropriate music themselves, often on their own unpaid time. Time that they can then spend doing what they love: engaging with and providing high quality care for the elderly. They will be more available to implement programs and provide the happy experiences that dementia and Alzheimer’s patients need and thrive on.
The Aged Care Music Resources program we have created is designed to support lifestyle staff with their work and save them preparation time. All resources have been tailored to meet specific needs in care and have been developed in collaboration with those delivering lifestyle and activities programs. With our package in their tool kit there is something at their fingertips for any occasion, ranging from quiet individual listening to group activities and everything in between.
During a visit to Cairns in 2018, I was encountering resistance from organisations and managers, who would not listen to the advice of their staff regarding the inherent value of our program. I was feeling dejected and frustrated at the lack of foresight by the managers and their reluctance to support their staff in their endeavours. However, at this point I had the good fortune to bump into Sylvia Carswell who had not long retired from years of working as a lifestyle and activities facilitator. When she saw the resources and heard the story behind them, she became very excited. As a member of the Lions Club at Trinity Bay, she took her enthusiasm and a proposal to the Lions and Lioness clubs in Cairns and surrounds. Seeing the potential, these wonderful community members have stepped up to provide lifestyle and activities staff with Aged Care Music Resources through the placement of many sets in aged care facilities in and around Cairns.
Sure, as one manager scoffed, ‘there is plenty of free stuff on the internet,’ but someone must research, find and collate it for use. Thanks to the foresight and generosity of Sylvia, Liz and other Lions and Lioness club members of greater Cairns, the aged care facilities staff now have access to a high-quality resource and the residents can enjoy the stimulation and experience of a valuable music program.