The proposed project is a not-for-profit community choir for people with dementia (PWD) and their carers within the Sutherland Shire district. Similar choirs are found to be located in other areas around Sydney and there appears to be absence of access to such a service in the Sutherland Shire district. A palliative care doctor, neurologist and registered music therapist will be overseeing the choir. The palliative care doctor has access to participants through hospitals located in the Sutherland Shire and has experience with community choirs. The registered music therapist has experience in running therapeutic singing groups for this population at multiple aged care homes around Sydney. Other health professionals running similar existing choirs internationally and nationally have been contacted and they have expressed interest in collaborating, implying the opportunities to carry out research that will contribute to knowledge in the field of music and medicine. The neurologist involved in the project will be a key player in performing research activities.
The proposed project aims to provide PWD and their carers with access to therapeutic singing group that withholds potential for health and well-being. Research suggests that participating in creative group activities as choirs, improves the dyadic relationship between PWD and their carers and enables support networks to be formed between carers. Participating in singing allows for self-expression which triggers the release of brain chemicals associated with pleasure. Stress and anxiety that inevitably arises when caring for others or when a person affected by the symptoms of dementia is alleviated as a result. Further, participation in singing of familiar songs engages PWD in here-and-now interactions that are meaningful and intentional. Singing is also a highly accessible and low-cost intervention that PWD and carers may utilise in other environments and empowers individuals to self-manage their own health.
Funded by Sydney (October 2019)