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That's NOT Entertainment

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Topics: 
approaches to dementia care, care services and care homes, research, symptom reduction

I've spent the past weekend at a conference on music therapy and dementia at Anglia Ruskin Univeristy, Cambridge. Astonishingly, it was a world first for a conference topic that seems to be of wide interest. 

It's clear that music therapy reaches parts that other interventions cannot reach, particularly when people are distressed or apathetic. The biggest obstacle that music therapists face, it seems, is the misconception that what they offer is just the same as a visiting concert party or an hour sat listening to Radio 2. In fact, they draw on psychodynamic theories to engage people with dementia through sound, using musical skills to respond to the person, helping them to overcome barriers to expression, and restoring identity.

Alas, there are only 125 music therapists working with older people in the UK; many of whom were at the conference, together with a strong representation of students on the 2-year MA qualifying courses. It's time for everyone working in dementia care to value music therapy and guide it to its rightful place as a highly skilled and effective resource.

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