Music has calming effect on hospital dementia patients

Woman in hospital bed wearing headphonesImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Playing music to dementia patients reduced agitation and stress levels

Playing music to dementia patients in Accident and Emergency has a calming effect on them, a study has found.

MP3 players were used to play music to people with dementia as part of an eight week pilot carried out by NHS Fife.

Researchers found it reduced levels to agitation and led to patients becoming markedly less stressed.

The results of the study have led to calls from specialists for the widespread use of music in A&E wards.

A total of 28 dementia patients displaying signs of stress and agitation were targeted in the trials.

Distraction technique

They were given an MP3 player loaded with songs from a variety of genres, as well as headphones or mini speakers.

They were assessed on nine key behaviours including eye contact, vocalisations, touch, movement to music, laughter and smiling.

A report on the trials concluded: "The use of music complements scientific treatment by distracting people's attention away from stressful procedures.

"This in turn decreases anxiety and improves outcomes.

"Using music for people with dementia in the ED [emergency department] is a person-centred approach to delivering holistic, therapeutic, and effective care.

"Improving care can be as simple as putting on headphones."

Now the technique has been introduced in post-theatre recovery and medicine of the elderly wards.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The music is said to distract patients' attention away from stressful procedures

Helen Skinner, a leading Alzheimer Scotland dementia nurse consultant, said: "Patients can be distressed when they come to A&E and we initially try to deal with that distress non-pharmacologically.

"We've found the use of music in an A&E setting has been hugely beneficial in supporting many patients with dementia to help relieve that distress.

"We'd like to see the use of music as a necessity, not a nicety, as part of a wider approach to helping patients and their carers deal with dementia."

The results of the study were welcomed by dementia charity Playlist For Life.

Sarah Metcalfe, chief executive of Playlist for Life, described the results of the trials as "encouraging".

"Playlist for Life hopes other NHS Trusts adopt the approach to help them enhance not only the level of care they provide to patients living with dementia, but also to support family members and carers," she said.

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.