June 12, 2019 News

Kirk House pioneers ground-breaking dementia therapy

Leading east Belfast care home recognised as Northern Ireland’s first ‘Music & Memory’ certified home for new methods in dementia therapy

Kirk House, a flagship residential project of BCM (Belfast Central Mission), introduced Music & Memory to its calendar of activity last year to positively impact on the quality of life of its residents, particularly those living with dementia.

Founded in the USA in 2010, Music & Memory UK was established in 2018 to bring the innovative therapy to the estimated 850,000 living with dementia throughout the UK, and Kirk House is the first care home in Northern Ireland to be officially certified, made possible by a local family trust.

The simple approach trains carers to utilise music that has been identified as significant to the participant. The music is then added to a MP3 player, the use of which is integrated into their daily therapeutic care.

Leona Larkham, Manager of Kirk House, said;

“We are thrilled to be Northern Ireland’s first care home to introduce the Music & Memory programme and we’ve already seen wonderful results with our residents.

“Listening to personalised or loved music can make all the difference between isolation and connection and we have seen first-hand how certain songs can trigger memories and emotions, literally bringing some of our residents ‘back to life’, so to speak, which is hugely rewarding for the resident, their family and our staff.”

Extensive research has shown that personalised music taps deep memories not lost to dementia and has many benefits including improved wellbeing, reduced need for antipsychotic medication, stronger relationships with staff and families and a calmer, more supportive care environment.

Simon Warner-Bore, CEO of Music & Memory UK, said;

“Our programme is supported by extensive research and growing awareness surrounding the benefit of personalised music as a low-cost, fast acting and non-pharmacological way of connecting people with their memories and a sense of self.

“Demand for the Music & Memory ethos is growing fast as word gets out about the significant benefits experienced by participants, family members, friends and carers.

“We are already seeing the same benefits to people living with dementia throughout the UK that have been demonstrated in over 5,000 care organisations worldwide.”

Kirk House is a residential care home on the King’s Road in east Belfast and is part of Belfast Central Mission’s ongoing and far-reaching community and social care work. BCM is one of Northern Ireland’s longest established charities and delivers multiple projects across the province, covering youth support, counselling, and includes the UK’s No.1 independent day nursery, Puddleducks, based at its Belfast headquarters.

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