THE healing power of music has helped bring peace to those with dementia at a Worcester care home according to a study.

The results of the sound therapy pilot study were published ahead of the Alzheimer's Society's 'Dementia Awareness Week' (May 15 to May 21).

Stanfield Nursing Home director, Richard White, shared the results of the study, conducted at his Worcester-based care home, in collaboration with the University of Worcester, into using sound therapy as a treatment for dementia.

Mr White said: "When broadcaster Sally Magnusson’s mother developed dementia, a range of psychotic drugs were recommended to help, but Sally opted for the power of music.

"As soon as her mum listened to her favourite tunes in the Sound of Music, her spirit soared immediately.

"She sang the tunes verbatim, even singing in harmony.

"For Sally, this was a revelation and since then she’s campaigned to ensure music is now an integral part of life for people with dementia.

"In our care home in Worcester, we use music to improve significantly the lives of our elderly residents who have dementia – and bring happiness to their family and carers."

At Stanfield Nursing Home Lenni Sykes’s mum was suffering from dementia and Lenni was desperate to calm her mum’s agitated state of mind.

Initially music had proved helpful but Lenni trained with the College of Sound Healing to discover how sound might help her mum.

A fellow student introduced her to the Freenotes Wing, a tuned percussion instrument designed for sound therapy. Mr White said: "The soothing tones of the instrument had an immediate effect on her mum, whose extreme agitation calmed when it was played."

When a new charity, Sound4Healing was formed, they agreed to fund a research project using the instrument to relieve agitation in dementia sufferers.

Mr White co-funded the pilot study along with Sound4Healing.

Lenni contacted the Association for Dementia Studies at the University of Worcester to collaborate on the project and manage the data collection while she focused on designing sound sessions specifically for people with dementia.

The research at the Worcester care home involved choosing residents with high levels of agitation to listen to the harmony and pure tones of the Freenotes Wing with its five-tone pentatonic scale.

This research covered almost four months.

In that time they ran 20 brief sessions – about 15 minutes long – using the Freenotes Wing every three days.

As part of the research, the designated staff used an observation tool while observing the residents for two hours during the first, mid-point and final day of the Sound4Healing programme.

Mr White said: "The outcome of the pilot indicated that the delivery of sound therapy sessions using the Freenotes Wing can help to create a soothing atmosphere in communal areas of our care home in Worcester.

"The research also reinforced for me personally how important music is in supporting those experiencing dementia.

"The sound sessions brought a peace, calm and harmony to the entire environment in our Worcester care home."