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28 Feb 2020

Changing lives through music

Changing lives through music: The Selwyn Foundation marks World Music Therapy Day with new music therapy programmes for its residents and clients with memory loss

In the lead-up to World Music Therapy Day on 1 March 2020, The Selwyn Foundation announces that it is extending its music therapy programme across its memory support centres in Auckland, with the service to be provided by The Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre — New Zealand’s only music therapy centre.

The Foundation’s new music therapy programmes will be offered to clients attending its day centres at the Anchorage (St Mary’s Church, Glen Innes) and Lavender Cottage (Selwyn Village, Point Chevalier), as well as to residents of households in its Ivan Ward care centre including the Brian Wells House memory support unit at Selwyn Village. The initiative builds on the success of its music therapy pilot held at the Anchorage in 2019, with the roll-out of the additional sessions made possible following a grant from the Charles Rupert Stead Charitable Trust.

Music therapy provides engagement-in-life through meaningful activity and helps people of all ages who may be living with anxiety, who have physical, cognitive and behavioural challenges, or who have memory loss or are recovering from stroke. It is the planned use of music to assist healing and personal growth, and its wide range of benefits include improved communication and social interaction as well as enhanced emotional wellbeing, thought processing and memory support.

The sessions are client-centred, with the therapist adapting in the moment in response to client ideas, their emotions and reactions. With memory loss, it can play an instrumental role from the initial stages — when patients and families are struggling to come to terms with the effects of memory loss — through to late-stage treatment, since music aptitude and appreciation are two of the last remaining abilities in these patients.

As a result of the many benefits, the quality of life for adults living with memory loss is significantly improved, with the positives also extending to their family members.

The Selwyn Foundation’s Community Programmes Manager, Heather Whineray, says: ‘We’re delighted to have entered this partnership with The Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre and to be able to offer this stimulating, engaging and inspirational form of therapy within our specialist memory support care centres.

‘There’s clear evidence that music therapy is a key component in the promotion of mental and physical health for adults with memory loss. It has the power to improve a person’s memory recall and can also lead to positive emotional changes and improved mood. It promotes physical movement and activity in participants, as well as increased opportunities for communication and social engagement. Our clients enjoyed it immensely during our pilot programme last year, so we’re looking forward to achieving similar benefits for a wider group of our clients and residents in 2020.’

Clients at Lavender Cottage enjoying a music therapy session with Registered Music Therapist Alicia Stewart.

Jen Ryckaert, Clinical and Centre Director of The Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre, says: ‘We’re very excited to have the opportunity of delivering music therapy to seniors at Selwyn Village. Music therapy is different to having a musician come in to entertain an audience. Instead, it’s about creating a space for people to make music together, and suggesting favourite songs to sing and talk about. Participants connect and interact with each other by sharing the memories that the music evokes, playing musical instruments, enjoying movement/dance and music-enhanced relaxation, and generally finding ways to respond.’

World Music Therapy Day on 1 March 2020 is promoted by the World Federation of Music Therapy to mark the importance of music therapy in helping to change lives and in creating engaging and motivating environments in which children and adults can learn and grow.