"Unity is strength... when there is teamwork and collaboration wonderful things can be achieved." - Mattie Stepanek
Music therapists working in long-term care settings not only work independently to provide group and one to one sessions for residents but they often also collaborate with allied health-care professionals on site. Through teamwork and collaboration, health care professionals can use their unique areas of expertise and bring their perspectives together to create new experiences and solutions in long-term care.
Below are 3 examples of collaborations that can take place in a long-term care settings with music therapists:
1. Nursing & Music Therapy
Music therapists can help to assist nursing staff during tasks that may cause a resident severe anxiety or bring about challenging behaviours. For example, when a nurse needs to administer an injection or take a resident's blood pressure, it can often cause feelings of anxiety for a resident with dementia, and in turn can bring about reactions such as shouting and physical aggression. In these circumstances, a nurse can collaborate with the music therapist who can assist in a number of ways. Music therapists are trained to build a strong therapeutic rapport with our clients. Through building trust and a therapeutic relationship over time with a resident, he or she is likely to feel comforted and supported when the music therapist is present. This alone can help to de-escalate a challenging situation such as this. Furthermore, the music therapist can help to hold the resident's attention during a difficult task using interventions such as singing or improvising. Engaging in music can shift their attention enough that the nurse may be able to successfully take their blood pressure, provide a bath, or any other task that the resident is initially resistant to.
2. Physiotherapy & Music Therapy
Music therapists collaborate with the physiotherapy team in long-term care to help improve the exercise experience for residents and help them to achieve their physical goals. One way this collaboration can take place is for the music therapist to provide live music during group exercises. The music therapist will work with the physiotherapist to ensure that the music helps to motivate each exercise within the session. This is done by using musical components such as rhythm, tone, and dynamics to distinguish the tension component of each exercise and the relaxed component. Here, rhythm is often the key factor in providing physical motivation!
Physiotherapists or rehabilitation therapists can also collaborate with music therapists when working with a resident individually towards a specific goal such as standing on their own from their wheelchair or walking.
3. Spiritual Counselling & Music Therapy
Spiritual counsellors often meet with residents individually who are dealing with grief or those who are having a particularly difficult time transitioning to the home. They meet with residents whose faith has been a key component in their lives and self-identity. In many circumstances, music is a prominent aspect associated with one's faith and can be a very meaningful way for a resident to engage in their spiritual practice. This is when a spiritual counsellor and music therapist can work together to provide spiritually meaningful experiences for residents in need.
Other collaborations in long-term care with music therapists can include those with art therapists, horticultural therapists, and activation therapists. The possibilities expand to us when we work as a team and can create richer experiences for the residents and immense learning and growth for us as professionals!
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