Virtual music therapy family visits
The Virtual Music Therapy Visits Program was created to assist residents living in long-term care (LTC) to connect virtually with friends and family members through the power of music and song as facilitated by a Certified Music Therapist.
During COVID-19, residents of long-term care (LTC) homes have been separated from family and friends due to infection prevention and control protocols. Residents were cut off from opportunities for intergenerational connection, as restrictions on visitors and concerns about the spread of the virus meant that many grandchildren and great-grandchildren have not been coming into the homes to visit. While recreation staff frequently use “virtual visits” to try and support resident connection with friends and family, these can be difficult for some residents, especially for those living with dementia. Our solution was to offer virtual music therapy visits to residents of one long-term care home in Guelph, Ontario. A music therapist attended the virtual visits and integrated reminiscence with singing and/or music-making to create positive and successful visits for residents.
Being able to connect at a distance through Zoom provides residents with the opportunity to interact and engage with those they may not get to see as often due to geographical separation, medical conditions, caregiving responsibilities, and other reasons that may make it difficult for these individuals to visit the LTC home.
During each session, a certified music therapist leads the resident and their friends and family members in various music therapy techniques such as singing songs and moving to music, gently facilitating reminiscence and music-making for the participants. The music therapy program promotes the stimulation of multiple domains of well-being (e.g., social, emotional, intellectual, spiritual) in residents and those joining them in the sessions.
From an evaluation perspective, the research team will talk to the family and team members at the beginning of the program and again once the 10 weeks of music therapy visits have been completed. This will allow the research team to determine expectations for and potential benefits of the program.
The information collected from this study will allow the research team to expand this innovative method of communicating and connecting to more residents and their loved ones. It is our hope that this program – developed during a global emergency to address the needs of residents to continue connecting with their family members and friends in a safe and enjoyable way – will be used beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kate Dupuis, PhD
Schlegel Innovation Leader in Arts and Aging
- Carrie Perkins, Village of Riverside Glen
- Kathy Lepp, Village of Riverside Glen
- Melissa Jessop, Village at University Gates
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