Using Music Care Initiatives to Target Isolation and Loneliness in Long-Term Care
Keywords:music and health, social isolation, culture change, health arts, participatory action research
Long-term care (LTC) is transitioning from a medical approach to utilizing a person-centred care approach. Enhanced quality of care and quality of life have become primary objectives which increasingly require non-pharmacological, individualized, and evidence-informed interventions. Music has diverse applications in health care, including the improvement of social and physical health, and consequently resident quality of life. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted adverse effects of restrictive measures within LTC, leading to decreased quality of life measures. An adapted participatory action research (PAR) framework was used to integrate a purposefully designed ‘music care initiative’ into the daily lives of 45 residents at three LTC sites. Prior to implementation, each LTC community received standardized training. Pre- and post-isolation and loneliness scores were collected, along with specific subscales from the Resident Assessment Instrument (RAI). Aggregate data revealed a significant decrease in responsive behaviours. This pilot study shows preliminary evidence that music care is a viable change agent which addresses social isolation and feelings of loneliness affecting LTC residents. Further, community-based research, like PAR, is effective in engaging on-site stakeholders and creating lasting change.