Caol care home introduces innovative musical training for staff

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A care home in Caol, Fort William, has partnered with an award-winning charity to embed the therapeutic powers of music in its care of residents with dementia.

The manager of Moss Park Care Home, Eilidh Kerr, has long been committed to the power of music and its benefits for residents.

Moss Park is now partnering with Music as Therapy International, a charity with more than 20 years’ experience with care staff, to strengthen its offering to residents.

The charity’s goal is to make music an integral part of care for vulnerable children and adults worldwide.

Its pioneering approach trains care staff to use simple music therapy techniques and activities, providing them with the resources and professional support needed to continue after a project ends.

Importantly, music therapy has been proven to reduce common symptoms of dementia, from anxiety and depression to isolation and sociability.

In 2016, Eilidh took part in Music as Therapy International training at Moss Park. Over six weeks, a professional music therapist gradually transferred skills and leadership to care staff, so that by the end they were leading their own sustainable and independent music programme.

Photograph: Music as Therapy International / Moss Park Care Home

This year, the Moss Park manager has invited the charity to return, having seen first-hand the impact music has had for residents with dementia, and reporting an ‘auditable reduction in challenging behaviour’ since the first project.

Eilidh said: ‘The music sessions we run at Moss Park have been invaluable. I want to train more staff in this valuable approach so that our residents receive the best quality of care possible; it gives them the ability to be seen and heard when words are not always possible.’

This project will follow the same eight-week training model and will consolidate Moss Park’s music programme by training more members of staff. Local music therapist Clare Reynolds will work with staff to pass on all the necessary skills to lead, as well as supporting the members of staff who were trained back in 2016.

Clare works regularly with Music as Therapy International in the Highlands and is also planning a CPD event for all its Scottish partners this spring.

She said: ‘I’m so pleased to be working with the Moss Park team again; this is a great group of people who are incredibly dedicated to the people they care for. I am so impressed at their musical journey over the past four years and their independent music practice.’

Alexia Quin, the director of Music as Therapy International, added: ‘At a time when social care is heavily under-resourced, any care home or manager that promotes innovative ways to improve quality of care, and quality of life, should be championed.

‘We are incredibly proud to be working with Moss Park once more to strengthen their musical offer.’