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Staff views of a music therapy group for people with intellectual disabilities and dementia: a pilot study

Shelley Bevins (Community Learning Disabilities Team, Plymouth Community Healthcare, Plymouth, UK)
Simone Dawes (The Feelings Team, Plymouth Community Healthcare, Plymouth, UK)
Athena Kenshole (Community Learning Disabilities Service, Plymouth Community Healthcare, Plymouth, UK)
Kathryn Gaussen (Community Learning Disabilities Service, Plymouth Community Healthcare, Plymouth, UK)

Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities

ISSN: 2044-1282

Article publication date: 5 January 2015

Abstract

Purpose

Despite the longstanding use of music therapy with people with intellectual disabilities and the growing evidence base for using music therapy as a tool to aid behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia in the general population, there is little work published which details the use of music therapy groups for people with intellectual disabilities who have a diagnosis of dementia. The purpose of this paper is to report a qualitative evaluation of staff views of a music therapy group for people with intellectual disabilities and dementia.

Design/methodology/approach

Carers of service users attending the group were interviewed either individually or through a focus group in order to ascertain their views about the music therapy group. The interview transcripts were then analysed using thematic analysis.

Findings

Two core themes and eight sub themes emerged from the data. These themes show that the group was felt to be pleasurable and enjoyable for the service users and that some tangible benefits of attending the group were observed by staff members. Notwithstanding the positive feedback, the results also suggested that more work is needed to inform carers of the goals and purpose of such groups. Further psycho-education for carers is suggested as a strategy to support future groups to run successfully.

Originality/value

There is little published research into the use of music therapy for people with intellectual disabilities who also have dementia. The current paper provides a starting point for future work in the area and further recommendations for future practice and research are considered.

Keywords

Citation

Bevins, S., Dawes, S., Kenshole, A. and Gaussen, K. (2015), "Staff views of a music therapy group for people with intellectual disabilities and dementia: a pilot study", Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities, Vol. 9 No. 1, pp. 40-48. https://doi.org/10.1108/AMHID-04-2014-0005

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited