Music takes centre stage for 10th Nursing Homes Week

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National Nursing Homes Week is celebrating its tenth year this week, with a special focus on music and its importance in meeting the medical and social care needs of residents.

Nursing Homes Ireland, which represents over 400 homes catering for about 25,000 residents across the country, says the week is a celebration of nursing home care and the theme it chose for this week’s festivities is, “Music Speaks”.

When Geraldine Desmond, Activities Co-Ordinator at The Lake House Nursing Home in Portnablagh, Co Donegal heard that music was the theme, she said they “jumped on board”.

Ms Desmond and her mother, Pat Desmond, play music at regular sessions and parties in the home, which has almost 50 residents ranging in age up to 105.

This week, they have introduced lots of different musical instruments for people to try out during their singsongs, as well as enjoying the online activities shared with residents in other homes.

Geraldine and Pat Desmond

While arts and crafts, exercise and other fun events feature strongly in the activities organised for residents in The Lake House, Geraldine says she finds that music is one of the most important.

“It brings people to a moment in time,” she said.

“It brings an emotion out in them, it makes them happy, it makes them sad, which is a good thing as well, and it just brings joy and fills up the home with beautiful singing, laughter and brings everyone together.”

As part of the week, Nursing Homes Ireland shares a new music video with the homes each day so that residents can enjoy performances from singers like Niamh Kavanagh and John Spillane.

The online performances also feature residents themselves, including some from The Lake House.

More than 100 people from more than 30 nursing homes across the country participated in the online performance, with renditions of classics like Danny Boy, Can’t Help Falling in Love and Que Sera, Sera.

Performances from the Irish Traditional Music Archive have also been opened up to residents and a discussion is planned on the impact of music on nursing home residents.

Residents at the Lake House enjoying a music session

In The Lake House, it is clear that music is very important to residents as they joined in with Geraldine and Pat.

Margaret Gallagher said that it makes you feel good to hear those songs again, it brings back memories and you think of all the dances you went to.

For Gracie Mulhern the music was lovely, something that cheered her up and “makes you happy for a wee while”.

Joe McGee said he liked the type of music they play at the home and enjoys all the parties and celebrations the staff host for them there.

Director of Nursing, Jennifer Rankin, said “there’s no tablet you can give somebody that’s going to bring that bit of joy”.

“We have people who are maybe at the very end stages of dementia and to see them tap their foot or their fingers along with the music, that’s communication,” she said.

“So, we are getting communication even though that person is non-verbal, they are still hearing the music.”

Ms Rankin said that it is unbelievable to see someone who had maybe forgotten their own families’ names, but they still remember all the words of the songs they learned as children.

The Lake House nursing home in Portnablagh

She said that during the Covid-19 pandemic, music was extremely important. They could not go out for entertainment, so entertainment had to come to them.

Some local singers and musicians, including Daniel O’Donnell, came to the windows of the nursing home and sang or played to the residents and staff inside.

It gave residents and staff a lift in what was a dark and bleak time, she said, “music brings joy to us all at all times”.

Tadhg Daly, CEO of Nursing Homes Ireland said that music fulfills an integral role in nursing home care, providing comfort to residents, stimulating memories, bringing them together and it gives great joy and happiness.

He wished everyone a very happy National Nursing Homes Week which continues until Sunday.

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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