Music and Memory project yields promising results

Canberra Symphony Orchestra’s (CSO) Music and Memory program – which saw orchestral musicians perform live music for residents with dementia at Goodwin House Ainslie – has delivered a number of positive impacts. Initial findings from the project reveal a statistically significant reduction in disruptive behaviours and improvements in mood and increased social interaction among people living with dementia.

The Music and Memory program was developed by Heather Roche, a third-year Psychology student at the University of Canberra, with oversight from CSO bassoonist and audiologist Kristen Sutcliffe, and saw the participants themselves take a hand in choosing the music performed.

“One of the key benefits we observed was the calming effect of the music across the study group”, said Sutcliffe. “The design and delivery also made it possible to build rapport with the participants and connect on a social, as well as musical, level.”

“Music has always been a part of life at Goodwin,” said Goodwin Executive Director of Care Jamie Fillingham. “It’s great to see the positive effects highlighted through this program.”

Sharing her experience of the program, Goodwin Village Ainslie resident Trish Read said, “I was lucky to be able to accompany my husband, who has Alzheimer’s, to these concerts, and see the connections these wonderful musicians made with the participants. The happy memories which were brought back and the sense of calmness and smiles on their faces was lovely to see. Congratulations on this program”.