What happens in a ‘singing care home’ ?

Ways to sing

Models of singing describes some of the wide variety of ways singing happens in care homes, including:

  • A concert model, where an individual, small ensemble or larger choir perform to residents, with plenty of chances for the residents to participate.
  • A singing leader works with residents to sing in a group.
  • A group of singers, with their leader, work in a home. The singers sit among the residents as “buddies”, sensitively helping them sing and get the most out of the activity
  • The “Mindsong” model, combining music therapists and volunteers.
  • The use of a “Sing for Your Life” music box

 

Many care homes take opportunities to sing at every occasion: care workers singing while dressing residents; music before lunch; CDs playing in corners where residents gather. For ideas, see our Survey results.

 

What you need to know

Residents in care homes may have challenging behaviour and may react in different ways to what you would expect.

All singers would find basic dementia awareness helpful. You may find courses locally, through eg:

  • your county family carers organisation
  • Age UK
  • a local arts and disability organisation: further information here.

 

Buddies work closely, almost one to one, with people who may have severe dementia. Jenny Goodman and Liz Hodgson run such buddy schemes, described in our Case Studies.

 

Singing leaders in particular need experience of working with challenging groups and have excellent interpersonal skills. In short, they need to be good community musicians with specialist knowledge and understanding of working with people with dementia and other conditions. Read all about these skills in our Handbooks.