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Introducing music as a therapeutic tool with the Happiness Programme

The sound of music

Music is a huge part of all of our lives and can be a great therapeutic tool for those living with cognitive challenges. The use of music can often bring about feelings of reminiscence and happiness, which can help to improve general well-being.

Here, we take a look at how the Happiness Programme can be used to introduce music as a therapeutic tool.

We’ve put together this article and webinar to give you some inspiration:

Advantages and benefits

There are many different advantages and benefits to using music as a therapeutic tool:

Participation & wellbeing

According to NHS England, 5% of people living in care homes have access to music and art. This statistic comes as a shock given the known benefits that art and music can provide to those living with dementia.

Music, in particular, can be a great way to convey and connect with emotions and different songs or sounds can provide different connections for people. This can also be a great way for people to connect with different cultures, and listen to music that they may not have heard before.

These resources are also easily accessible, whether it be a quick search on Youtube or Spotify or listening to a CD. The Happiness Programme features a growing list of radio stations which can easily be found on the magic table 360 for ease of access to music resources.

Social Connections

Music can offer some great time to reflect alone, but it can also be incredibly sociable. We’ve listed some of the social benefits to music related sessions:

  • Motivation for interaction and communication with others and staff
  • Facilitates relaxation
  • Prompts sense of identity, reminiscence and self confidence
  • Sparks conversation about likes and dislikes, or memories attached to certain sounds
  • Is an open-ended activity

Physiological effects

Through our recent survey, we found that 60% of respondents had seen residents become less agitated when using the music based activities in the Happiness programme. This shows that music can be used as a therapeutic intervention, and used to help deal with anxiety and stress related symptoms.

However, there are more physical benefits to music including reduced pain, coordination and an increase in general physical movement.

Staff engagement

Whilst music is incredibly beneficial for residents and users of the Happiness Programme, it can also be a great way for staff to engage too:

  • Music can create an interactive, relaxed and fun atmosphere for both residents and staff
  • Can help build a rapport with residents
  • Can provide talking points, story telling and backgrounds into the residents past and interests
  • Singing along or dancing can show increased benefits for participants
  • Allow you to make adjustments for sensory and physical profiles
  • Introduce multimedia such as iPads, Spotify, Youtube, Alexa so that players can request their favourite songs alongside games or activities. You could try combining the reminiscence in Happy Memories with their favourites for extra stimulation.
  • Helps  to bring people together and allows for shared experiences

Games with ambient sounds

  • Poems Radio
  • Ripples
  • Star Gaze
  • Sunrise, sunset and falling leaves
  • Rose petals
  • Happy Memories

Musical  games

  • Piano Practice
  • Elvis Radio
  • Irish Folk Radio
  • And some more additions coming soon…

From our subscribers…

We’ve had a lot of positive feedback on our music based games, and how they are helping to improve the quality of life for those living in care. We’d like to share some of our favourite quotes to help give you some inspiration to explore music as a therapeutic tool:

“The music went down really well… lots of smiles and singing and dancing”

“The Elvis music calmed down one of our service users who was starting to escalate!”

“The Irish music had the 5 service users in the lounge jigging and humming along”

Finally, we received this hand written note from one of the Happiness Programme players at Roman Ridge in Sheffield:


Not a member of the Happiness Programme?

The Happiness Programme is a first-of-its-kind initiative helping to change the lives of people living with cognitive challenges. We use interactive light technology to provide meaningful activities for residents and patients in care homes and care settings.  For more detail on what the Happiness Programme is and how it’s helping care venues across the UK, visit our getting started page.

Alternatively, jump to our dementialearning disability and NHS pages for more specific detail on how it’s helping care homes like Barchester and HC-One as well as hospitals and local authorities such as St George’s Hospital, London and Westminster and South Kensington Council.

For anything else, you can contact us here too.