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Researchers to study power of music in care homes

Academics from Middlesex University are to study if music therapy sessions have a positive impact on elderly people who live in care homes and are suffering from cognitive decline.

The researchers will be monitoring the impact of weekly music therapy sessions with 200 older adults aged 65 and over who live independently or in Methodist Home Association (MHA) care homes.

The planned three-year MusicCare study set to start next year has been awarded a grant of £299,957 from the Dunhill Medical Trust, alongside funding from MHA and the Society for Education and Music Psychology Research (SEMPRE).

The researchers will monitor participants, who are healthy or suffer from mild to severe cognitive impairments, in one-to-one and small group sessions.

Before and after the study, the researchers will use neuropsychological tests and biomarkers (physiological and brain function measures) with residents to assess their general cognitive level along with evaluations of the benefit of the music therapy sessions on the resident’s mood and behaviour.

The research team also plans to purchase a QTrobot, a humanoid robot by LuxAI formerly used to teach skills to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Some of the music therapy sessions will be alternated with sessions delivered via the QTrobot, which could be particularly significant given the social distancing restrictions in health and social care settings.

‘With populations living longer it is likely that more people will experience cognitive decline for example, experiencing attention and memory difficulties,’ said senior lecturer, Dr Fabia Franco.

‘It is therefore essential that researchers investigate how individuals can maintain good levels of cognitive function for longer and stave off impairment.

‘This research situates itself alongside the vital studies being undertaken globally to develop forms of intervention to prevent and monitor cognitive decline by developing robust experimental evidence,’ added the doctor.

A spokesperson from the Dunhill Medical Trust said: ‘There is a real need for high quality evidence on the efficacy of non-pharmacological therapeutic interventions, such as music and other creative arts, in ageing populations.’

Photo Credit – Middlesex University

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