Music Therapy and Dementia Care in the 21st Century

Music Therapy conference image

4-6 September 2015
Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge

Final programme and abstracts

Conference poster

Letter from Professor Helen Odell-Miller

Accommodation information

BAMT logo

This conference will be the first in the UK to focus specifically on music therapy and dementia. The number of people reported to be living with dementia worldwide is steadily increasing; this has led to an increased demand for therapies and care approaches which emphasise non-verbal means relating. This conference will be of particular importance to all music therapists, students and other professionals interested in work with people who have dementia.

Presentations and workshops will focus upon multidisciplinary work with other practitioners and include contributions from people suffering from dementia; a balance between theory, clinical practice, research and the impact of music therapy will be offered.

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The conference is organised by the Music Therapy team in the Department of Music and Performing Arts at Anglia Ruskin University, chaired by Professor Helen Odell-Miller, Director of the Music for Health Research Centre, in collaboration with Methodist Homes (MHA), a major employer of music therapists in the UK, and the British Association for Music Therapy (BAMT). The opening address will be given by Adrian Bagg CEO of MHA.

The conference will be linked to a preceding one-day conference on Friday 4 September, 'The Role of the Arts Therapies in Dementia Care in the 21st Century', sponsored by ICRA (International Consortium for Research in the Arts Therapies), which will focus on Dance Movement Therapy, Dramatherapy, Art Therapy and Music Therapy. Delegates can book for one conference or both.

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Keynote speakers

Helen Odell-Miller

The conference will be chaired by Professor Helen Odell-Miller Director of the Music for Health Research Centre at Anglia Ruskin University.

Helen Odell-Miller is Professor of Music Therapy and Director of the Music for Health Research Centre. In 1994 she co-founded the first MA Music Therapy course in the UK at Anglia Ruskin University. Helen is currently an Advisory Board Member for international music therapy organisations. Other collaborations include work with the International Consortium for Music Therapy Research and with Methodist Homes (MHA) and Ming Hsu working on new dementia research in music therapy. She is currently working with Parliamentary groups on music therapy and dementia and other research profile raising for music therapy.

The keynote speakers for the Music Therapy and Dementia conference will be:

Dr David Aldridge

Dr David Aldridge - Editor of the book Music therapy in Dementia Care

David Aldridge specializes in developing research methods suitable for the creative arts. He has emphasized the importance of the arts in research and this resulted in his specialised qualitative approach analysing therapeutic narratives. He has published extensively in the field of family distress based on his original work on suicidal behaviour in families, spirituality and end of life care since 1983. His paper "Music and Alzheimer's disease" appeared in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine in 1993, cumulating in an edited collection “Music therapy in dementia care”, Jessica Kingsley 2000. His book, “Music therapy research and practice in medicine”, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London was published in 1997. This was followed by a series of books and papers about specialist subject matter in music therapy research and practice, including dementia care, traumatic brain injury and neurological rehabilitation. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, London.

Ming Hsu

Ming Hsu - Methodist Homes (MHA) and Anglia Ruskin University

Ming Hung Hsu spent his undergraduate years exploring how children learn in primary education. He later developed a desire to understand how music therapy works which led him to the training in the UK. After qualifying from Anglia Ruskin University, he pioneered music therapy in Methodist Homes, a not-for-profit care organisation for older adults and individuals living with dementia. Having worked closely with services and marketing managers, he had opportunities to see music therapy from other professionals’ perspectives. This also enables him to value the use of non-music therapy language to communicate music therapy to people outside of the profession. Ming is a trained Dementia Care Mapper and is fascinated by life sciences. His PhD research has incorporated research findings of psychophysiology and neuroscience to explain the mechanics of music therapy in dementia care.

Professor Hanne Mette Ridder

Professor Hanne Mette Ridder - Director of Music Therapy Research, Aalborg University

Hanne Mette Ridder is Professor and Head of the Doctoral Programme in Music Therapy at Aalborg University, and president of the European Music Therapy Confederation (EMTC). She has a MA in music therapy, is a certified clinical music therapy supervisor, and received her PhD from Aalborg University in 2003. Her research has focus on music therapy in gerontology and dementia care, as well as on the integration of qualitative and quantitative research in mixed methods research designs. She has presented widely at international conferences and lectured at a large number of music therapy training courses. She serves at advisory editorial boards for The Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, Approaches and Music & Medicine and has authored and co-authored many book chapters and refereed journal articles.

Dr Orii McDermott

Dr Orii Mcdermott - Music therapy researcher, University College London

Orii McDermott, PhD, is a music therapist and works for Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, UK. She is a postdoctoral researcher at the Division of Psychiatry, University College London specialising in psychosocial interventions in dementia. Orii has developed and evaluated MiDAS (Music in Dementia Assessment Scales) as part of her doctoral study at the Doctoral Programme in Music Therapy, Aalborg University. She is a member of INTERDEM (Early detection and timely INTERvention in DEMentia).

Music therapy and dementia care in the 21st century will focus upon multidisciplinary working with other practitioners including with those suffering from dementia. Presentations are welcome from all disciplines, but focussing upon the theory, practice, research and impact of music therapy. Presentations selected will give a balance between a clinical and a research focus.

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Why is this conference important now?

In 2013, approximately 44.4 million people were reported to be living with dementia worldwide (Alzheimer's Disease International, 2013). It is estimated that this number will increase to 75.6 million in 2030, and 135.5 million in 2050. This will result in an increased demand for beneficial therapies and care approaches that include ways other than verbal, as a form of relating.

A report commissioned by the Department of Health in 2009 emphasised a need for further research investigating the clinical and cost effectiveness of non-pharmacological methods. In line with this, music therapy has been recommended as a psychosocial intervention in the UK National Dementia Strategy (Department of Health, 2009). Recent research (Ridder et al 2013) shows music therapy can reduce agitation and reduce the use of medication.

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