Little Mountain Place is a residential care home in East Vancouver, providing support and housing to 116 individuals. The Music Therapy program consists of:
• Group Singalongs & Hymn Singalongs
• Collaboration programs with the Leisure Department, often to celebrate a holiday or occasion
• Nonverbal Music Improvisation Groups: drumming, and improvisation utilizing tuned and non-tuned instruments (eg: drum circles, handbell choir)
• Integrative Technology and Cultural Sensitivity: jazz, world music and electronic music to promote integration and accessibility within the diverse resident population with limited physical and cognitive abilities.
• Movement Sessions and Relaxation Sessions
• Chinese Choir: Chinese residents who make up the majority of the population of Little Mountain Place.
• Drum circle with brief exercises to warm up the hands, arms, and body
• 1-1 visits and bed-side care for residents who choose not to or unable to attend group programs
The residents at Little Mountain Place have diverse complex physical and/or mental health needs. Although residents come from diverse cultural backgrounds, a large percentage of the residents are of Asian descent. A 26-bed Special Care Unit called “The Garden Terrace” is specially designed to provide support for residents with behavioral symptoms related to Alzheimer’s disease and mental illness.
The age of residents ranges from 59 to 100 year old and is composed of 55 males and 59 females.
How does Music Therapy uniquely address the needs of clients at Little Mountain Place?
Music Therapy connects with residents who are socially isolated due to language barriers or personal health. The music therapist builds relationship and trust with the residents.
Due to COVID-19 safety precautions, entertainers, volunteers and family are unable to be in close proximity for the sake of the safety of the residents. The Music Therapist seeks to address these desires by providing similar experiences and opportunities with a focus on sensory stimulation, cultural empowerment, positive social relationships and experience joy.
How has COVID-19 impacted the program?
No suspension of programs however a new music therapist was brought in as the other music therapist couldn’t work on multiple sites. As seniors are not getting visitors during COVID, they rely even more on Leisure activities and Music Therapy for their wellbeing.
This funding would add an additional day per week of Music Therapy services:
• Equal to 390 additional hours annually
• Increase number, variety and quality of programs with additional time for program development and collaboration with other care staff.
• Increase availability for dates for leisure department and music therapy combined programs/events that can gather up to 50 residents
• More availability for one-on-one sessions for residents who choose to not or unable to attend group sessions
• Additional funding to organize additional safe, consistent choir programs and plan performances to be recorded for families.
• Overall more interactions with residents and resulting documentation contributes additional input for resident assessments, treatment plans and care conferences.
• Hiring an additional music therapist
From Music Therapist Cameron Yip:
One resident was referred to music therapy to address symptoms of what appeared to be depression. For most of the day, care staff reported the resident to lie in bed where they would perform their daily activities. When offered opportunities to leave their room the resident would politely decline and instead sleep throughout the day with little to no form of sensory stimulation. Yet a few months prior, this was the same resident who independently traveled to attend multiple programs throughout the care home, socialized with care staff and fellow residents and frequently entertained visits by loved ones.
The first time I met one to one with the resident, the resident displayed signs of tiredness – constant yawning mid-sentence, speaking in a whisper-like tone and took long breaks between responses. Initially I thought the resident was uninterested in music therapy visits however, at the end of the session, the resident said, “Please come back and sing for me again.” The visits that followed included the learning of the resident’s background, the process of their immigration to Canada and singing songs in their native language which led to the teaching of each other’s languages.
Until one day, the therapist would come to the dining area where the resident was seen having their breakfast outside of their room. I expressed my excitement to see the resident smiling and out of bed to which the resident replied, “Before I felt like I couldn’t do anything, I couldn’t speak and sang like a whisper. But now because of you I think I improved. I love you. I love you and your music.”