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The value of singing in care settings
I have had lots of conversations on this topic recently. We have a raft of research that recognises the benefits of singing and even more about the impact of singing with others.
Singing releases the 'happy' hormones - endorphins - which lifts mood and gives a feeling of well-being that can last long after the activity.
It's common to hear music playing in care settings and sometimes you hear residents enjoying a song too. It is uplifting to see a carer using songs to engage with someone living with dementia. NAPA has a DVD clip that shows a carer recounting how she learnt a particular hymn in order to support a lady living with late-stage dementia to have a bath. In my care home we had a Choir Practice every Thursday. I led the session and I have no great singing voice but it was supported by a retired music teacher who was a skilled pianist which made all the difference. One of my residents was living with late stage dementia.
Last year we ran a project, funded by Comic Relief, in six care homes called Choirs in Care Homes. Our report demonstrated the value of a professional choirmaster coming in every 2 weeks to run a formal choir practice for a group of residents and staff who particularly enjoyed singing. We recorded the impact on well-being and it was marked for most people. There is a significant difference between an informal sing-song and a structured well-led session. Both have their place but the outcomes and impact may be different.
NAPA runs a competition every year whereby we challenge the care sector to take part in an activity that we think is important. This year it will be linked to Red Nose Day on 24 March. We are inviting every care setting - care home, extra care, sheltered housing and day centres - to sing the same song at 3 pm on that day. We hope that it might have a real impact if enough people join in, not only on the well-being of the folk who sing but on changing the rather negative view that many have of the care sector.
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