By Dr Christina Green, RMT (Registered Music Therapist)
In late February 2020 I was appointed as a music therapist within the Lifestyle Team at Faversham House. Beginning with three days per week, I moved to four to meet the increased need for activities to keep the residents active and engaged whilst they have been unable to connect in person with family and friends as part of health-related lockdown.
I trained as a music therapist at the Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Centre in London, in the music therapy approach developed by British special school teacher Clive Robbins and American composer/pianist Paul Nordoff. The training was focused on children with intellectual and physical disabilities, using improvised music as a key tool, but work in the UK also took me into other client areas including people affected by HIV and AIDS, mental health and adults with disabilities In Australia my work has been with adults with disabilities including ABI (acquired brain injury). The focus on creating/finding music to meet participants where they are, and working to assist them to access new experiences and capacities through music, has remained with me through my 27 years of work. I had only a small amount of experience in aged care before starting at Faversham House, but had worked with older people both in the disability field and in freelance choral and community music projects.
My first session at Faversham House was with residents in the Assisted Memory Unit, and it was a joy to connect with these residents and see them become involved in singing from the get-go. Since then I have done both group and individual sessions with residents through the home, getting know people and working up new repertoire for enjoyment, mental, cultural and sensory stimulation. My focus is on increasing singing and participation, and I am delighted with what is being achieved so far. The Covid-19 time has been a challenge for everyone, and I have felt privileged to do my part along with my wonderful Lifestyle colleagues to provide input and connection for residents in the lockdown conditions. With a solid base of shared old-time songs now in place, and having connected well with people, I am beginning to branch into some new material, engaging the interest I have found in a focus on the earth, climate change and environment concerns, etc., and residents are enjoying learning some new songs on these themes. Another area in which there has been a lot of enjoyment has been the music appreciation sessions, looking at music for various instruments across the centuries.
I look forward to continuing work at Faversham House, developing the program, and to the time when residents will be able to return to the usual balance of things as Covid-19 restrictions are eased. It is a great joy to work with the team and residents here. I am receiving warm feedback from residents, who are saying that they are enjoying the program, as well as from staff/colleagues. I also acknowledge the work of my predecessor Joanne, who left helpful resources and background for me to work with.