University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Flourishing through Music: Understanding, Promoting and Supporting Shared Musical Activity within the Caring Relationships of People with Dementia Living at Home

Swift, Ruby (2020) Flourishing through Music: Understanding, Promoting and Supporting Shared Musical Activity within the Caring Relationships of People with Dementia Living at Home. PhD thesis, University of Worcester.

Text (PhD thesis)
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Background: Changes that occur for a person as a consequence of dementia can be experienced as losses, both by people with the condition and those who care for them. People in these caring relationships can also discover different ways of being, and relating to each other as individuals, relationships and circumstances change. This opens up future possibilities for growth and development. Music and dementia research has been conducted predominantly within and, therefore, focused on issues of relevance within, institutional settings rather than peoples’ own homes. Studies conducted within the home setting suggest that musical activity can be supportive of people with dementia and those that care for them; support that is greatly needed. In this study, I sought to understand musical activity in the home setting and caring relationships of people with dementia and how it can be promoted and supported, whereas the majority of previous studies have sought to establish the impact of musical interventions.
Method: I engaged in a process of ‘gentle empiricism’; a method for the study of living processes that is attributed to Goethe. Gentle empiricism takes individual experience as a basis for coming to understanding and is a new approach to music and dementia research. My experience was the primary form of data for the study that was supplemented by documentation, video footage and other forms of media as ‘secondary data’. To gain experience, I participated in musical activity within the homes of four people with dementia, each with a family member, during fieldwork sessions.
Understanding: This study offers a ‘dynamic’ perspective of personhood as human activity, dementia as disruption to this activity, and music as a medium offering coherence. The findings
• evidence the accessibility of shared musical experiencing and creating in the daily lives and caring relationships of people with dementia living at home;
• demonstrate a relevance for musical activity beyond health and well-being outcomes;
• and elucidate conditions, qualities and practical suggestions for promoting and supporting opportunities for musical activity in peoples’ own homes.
Potential: The understanding from this study holds potential to contribute to the development of person-centred dementia care practice and music facilitation in the home setting. It also holds potential to promote and support the growth and flourishing of individuals with dementia living at home and those who care for them, their relationships and their musical activity. Gentle empiricism emerged as a pertinent approach for future music and dementia research and practice.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:

A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the University’s requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy. University of Worcester, 2020.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: music, dementia, Alzheimer's, living at home, singing, gentle empiricism, Goethe, Goethean science, personhood, person centred-care, musical empowerment, music-making, Bortoft, Steiner, daily life, human flourishing, musical activity
Divisions: College of Health, Life and Environmental Sciences > School of Allied Health and Community
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Ruby Swift
Date Deposited: 01 Nov 2021 11:54
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2021 11:54

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