I work with two populations: People in assisted living, care center, and transitional care units; and people with developmental disabilities. I suppose I could break down the populations even further by considering age groups. Certainly, I work with the elderly — that is pretty clear — and I work with young children with developmental disabilities as well as young adults with such delays.
I imagine there is a reader or two who does not know much about music therapy, or perhaps how music therapy applies to those residents and clients I see.
So, how do I provide music therapy in my work in the care center?
I’ll try to tell you, in broad terms.
I see approximately 250 residents in the care center where I work. (I am separating the TCU from this group.) These residents are spread throughout the building, and include people who live in a memory care unit, a palliative care unit, and some residents who are functioning with much more independence. I see residents who live in each unit at least once a week, and usually they are in large (sometimes very large) groups. There are so many considerations that are involved in fashioning these groups. For instance, in the palliative care unit, I gather my residents in a group, but essentially I see them 1:1. However, in another group, I try to bring out people who are known for being social and conversational and combine them with people who are known for being reclusive (who also seem to enjoy or benefit from music). So, this being said, one of my major considerations is how big my groups should be.
Sometimes I don’t have a choice. Sometimes, like today, I have a great group together, and a nurse’s aid takes two of my residents from the group. And then the group dynamic falls apart. Or, they just drop residents off in the room where I’m facilitating, and leave them way off in the periphery of the room.
But, that’s for another post (maybe).
Once I have a group assembled, I begin the session with a unifying, familiar “hello song.” I follow this with another group experience. Then, if I’ve determined I have at least 80% active participation from the group as a whole, I move to 1:1 interactions that I use to tie one part of the circle/group to another portion of it. I try to bring the session to a close with another group experience or song, and then I close with a known “good-bye song.”
Each week, I target one domain (cognitive, physical, social, emotional, etc.) for the whole care center. I’d love to have more time to plan, though at this point, I don’t. But, each day I write up goals for each group that I see that day, using a planing template I created for my care center work.
I may elaborate on certain factions of my day, should anyone be curious. I just happen to know that some people might not know what goals I have for my work in the care center.