Rec. therapist inspired to roll out new personalized music program for residents
Music and rhythm, it can be argued, are the foundations of humanity. The heartbeat of a mother is the first thing a person hears; a baby is linked to that steady beat as sure as they’re linked to the nutrients of life through the umbilical cord.
Tansley Woods recreation therapist Chris Poos has always considered music to be an important aspect of the programs he offers residents, but after watching a documentary last month, he sees music in an enhanced light.
It can be a powerful tool to enliven people living with dementia, he says, and immediately after watching the story of Dan Cohen and his Music and Memory project, Chris was inspired to maximize the use of personalized music and iPods in his village to provide new pleasure for the elders he serves.
Alive Inside documents social worker Dan Cohen’s quest to get donated iPods into the hands of caregivers, and it illustrates music’s power when offered to people who are often otherwise unresponsive.
Chris saw the film at the Pioneer Network conference in Jacksonville, Florida and he says he was immediately sold on the idea of rolling out a similar project throughout the villages, starting with Tansley Woods, and he has the full backing of both support team members and Dr. Anita Stern, researcher with the Research Institute for Aging.
“When I saw that video I said ‘this is something that no matter what, it needs to be done; we must do it,’ ” Chris recalls.
As of Sept. 10, eight iPods have been donated by either family members or team members, and he’s aiming for a total of 15 before he launches the concept, hopefully sometime in early October.
He and general manager Jo Anna Gurd already have a few residents in mind they believe could benefit from access to their own personal playlist of music to spark memories and rejuvenate the spirit.
He intends to speak with residents where possible to help them design their own playlists, and for those who have difficulty communicating, he’ll work closely with family members to identify songs that might have the biggest impact on residents.
He’s also excited by the fact that all team members will have the opportunity to contribute to the program and be a part of the potential benefits he anticipates.
“We see this as much more than recreation,” Chris explains. “We see this being kept with the nurses and personal support workers, so it’ll be more cross-functional instead of just a program for recreation team members to work on.
“This is kind of new for everyone, and I’m sure it will be an excellent experience to think it all out and then put it all into place.
“Dementia and Alzheimer's does not affect our preference in music and the songs we like. To watch the video that we saw at the conference and see the effect that music has to spark life in our residents is important to me, and no matter whatever time and effort that is required to put this together, I look forward to the day we can put it into action."
He says he’s eager to collect more iPods and can be reached at the Village of Tansley Woods by calling 905-336-9904, or you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.