The Magic of Music: Hatherleigh Nursing Home, Devon

The Power of Music in Dementia Care

There is power in music. Revolutionaries have used music as a platform to convey messages of change, during periods of civil and societal unrest. Protest songs have illustrated realities of war, injustice, civil rights, while artists have used music to record their pain and personal experiences of these times of uncertainty. Music, in all its forms has given hope, invigorated, and touched millions across the world. While we may think of social change firstly in terms of the ‘power of music’ I would like to propose a bigger musical power to you; the magic of music for those living with a dementia.

We Associate Feelings and Memories with Music

Many of my happiest memories are often recalled when I hear a song and it takes me back to lying in festival fields, beer in hand and squinting through sunshine watching a band I love. Equally, some songs can remind me of times I have lost relatives and have found comfort in the melodies and verses that eased my pain. For many of us, music provokes emotions and feelings from times passed us by.

It’s good to look at living with a dementia as a journey; each person has their own personal experience of that journey and how it affects them can be very different. The further a person living with dementia travels on their journey the more difficult it becomes to communicate and recall memories. While conversation may fade and words forgotten, the magic of music remains.

Many studies have been carried out on the relationship between music and language and while more recent studies have found that they do depend on some of the same brain systems, they originate in different parts of the brain. Which is why someone living with a dementia may have lost the words to say, but a song from their past can resonate and reanimate within them.

At Hatherleigh Nursing Home, Devon

Long at Hatherleigh Nursing Home, Devon have we found that musical occupation or what some medical professionals may call ‘music therapy’, has enabled our family members to reconnect and reminisce with moments of their past. This is not incidental, when we welcome a new member into the Hatherleigh family we learn as much as possible about their life journey.

This learning allows the home to shape the home and find the sounds that fill the air between all the walls. This knowledge determines the radio in the background during mealtimes and which life performers are invited into the home.

Music allows members of our family with dementia to express themselves, whether that be through dancing and singing for those who are starting their journey with dementia to movements, humming and tapping for those who are coming towards the end of their journey. Recognising music validates feelings of self-worth, and this validation can help relieve a person from any feelings of anxiety around any confusion they may have. This connection can remind a person who they are and where they have been.

This can be emotionally powerful to witness, particularly in later stage dementia. Seeing the change in someone’s demeanour and behaviour at the sound of a note or beat. The brightness in their eyes, the tapping in time and the humming through smiled lips is a heart melting moment like no other.

While the likes of John Lennon and Bob Marley gave a voice to millions, I guarantee you there is nothing like the overwhelming warmth of seeing a loved one living with dementia invigorated by the sound of their favourite song.

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Mental Health Awareness Week 2020: Wellbeing at Hatherleigh Nursing Home

Promoting wellbeing and happiness in our home has always been at the heart of Hatherleigh. This Mental Health Awareness Week we are highlighting the importance of focusing on the wellbeing of not only those who live in the home, but also of our teams who devote themselves to our family members.

Often at Hatherleigh Nursing Home, our team put their feelings aside if it means they can best support our family members on their later life and dementia journeys to feel safe, happy, and loved. Whilst we are proud of the care that all of our “one team” provides for those in their care, it is equally as important that they themselves are being taken care of. Whether that is talking to a fellow team member or mentor within the home or our Wellbeing Team, everyone at the home has someone or somewhere they can turn to when in need.

The Wellbeing Team

As well as the support and mentorship offered within the home, Hatherleigh Nursing home also offer support by our remotely based Wellbeing Team. For them, there is never a burden too heavy to share, and they are always at the end of the line, whatever the day or time, to listen and to care. They offer both support on best practice and emotional wellbeing for all team members. You are only ever a call or a message away.

Going Live

Although we are still unable to meet for face to face connections at our monthly group training sessions, the leadership team have been hosting online sessions to avoid anyone feeling disconnected or unsupported. Every Friday at 9pm, they have been going Facebook Live with all our teams joining for interactive sessions. There has been reassuring, educating, supporting, laughing, and connecting with one another. Any questions or uncertainties have been addressed with openness and honesty, leaving no-one in any doubt. Allowing us as individuals to feel whole and together as a team once more.

The Wellbeing Guide

Hatherleigh Nursing Home pride ourselves on being an employer that is concerned about your life away from the entrance to our home. Being a member of the Hatherleigh family means we offer you support to you in any area of your life you wish to share with us. Teams are strongly encouraged to dedicate time to supporting themselves and focus on prevention of ill being. A guide to wellbeing has been provided to team members prescribing advice, tips, support, and challenges that promote wellbeing and enable good mental health.

Self-Kindness

It is important to remember that we are all going through this journey together and that we need to spend some time tending and caring for ourselves. Giving ourselves the love, we deserve! The theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is kindness, so be kind to yourself and reward your life with feelings of hope, positivity, fulfilment, and joy. It really is your worth.

These are just a few ways in which we support our team’s wellbeing and mental health, if you’d like to find out more about what we can offer at Hatherleigh Nursing Home, email: joinus@hatherleighnursinghome.com or fill out our online form here and we’ll be in touch with you shortly!

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Mental Health Awareness Week 2020: An Anxious Perspective

I’m not good enough. Why did I do that? I’m wasting your time. What I’ve done is rubbish. I’ve done it wrong. They don’t believe me. Why did I say that? They don’t want me here. What is wrong with me?

Many of us live with a mental health problem.

I live with anxiety. Often my thoughts get stuck on loop and I struggle to break a continuous feeling that I am inadequate in both who I am and what I do. Even as I write this, I do so wondering whether this will be worth the time I’m spending on it.

I’m fortunate in that I work for an employer who recognises the importance of acknowledging that I can suffer from poor mental health and encourages me to be open about it. I am told that the strength of a group relies on the strength of the individuals within. By understanding each other we can work together more effectively to support those who live at our homes.

That encompasses all professional relationships within the home – carer to carer, carer to manager, manager to catering staff. After all, how can we expect to take of others if we cannot look after ourselves. By coming together, we can achieve and sustain the outstanding standards we set ourselves in providing care.

When I started with the Evolve Care Group, I was encouraged to be open and embrace my identity. I must admit that this made me feel somewhat uncomfortable. I didn’t want to present my baggage or air my dirty laundry in full view for all to see. But, by embracing the openness and honesty bred throughout the company I now enjoy a two-way relationship that benefits both I and my employer. This ‘culture of comfortability’ created in my place of work allows for others to recognise when I am struggling and give me either the space or reassurance I need for me to operate to the best of my abilities.

Written by Josh, a team member at Evolve Care Group

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International Women’s Day: Rosemary Henderson, Hatherleigh’s Resident Engineer: The Journey from Sewing Machines to Naval Helicopters

Sunday, 8th March is International Women’s Day; a day to celebrate women’s achievement, raise awareness against bias and promote gender equality. Rosemary Henderson, a member of the Hatherleigh family is one of many amazing women who live at the home, her story is shared below.  

Life for women in the 1950’s was very different to that of the one we know today. Women were largely seen as housewives. Dreams and aspirations of higher education and careers were never realised for many. In the 1960’s this began to change, as the oppressed challenged gender inequalities within society. The resultant was a boom in jobs for young single women and more pursuing education at a higher level.

Introducing Rosemary…

One of these determined and remarkable women who made her career during this time was Hatherleigh Nursing Home family member Rosemary Henderson. Having joined the Royal Navy in her early 20’s, Rosemary worked as an engineer, working on Rolls Royce helicopter engines. 

In an era when sexism was rife and female employment was still relatively low, Rosemary was responsible for keeping Britain’s naval force of helicopters safely in the air!

Based in Gosport, Hampshire during her naval service, while working in her highly skilled and challenging profession, she also met her love and future husband Bill.

Rosemary’s Naval career came to an end when the couple moved back to Bideford, where Rosemary spent most of her life, to raise the first of their two daughter’s Laura.

Sewing beginnings…

She first moved to the town as a child with her family, who ran the local sewing machine business ‘Weeks,’ which supplied local schools and businesses with their machines.

Growing up amongst so many sewing machines during her childhood left a lasting impression on Rosemary who continued to enjoy cross stitch and tapestry as a pastime many years later.

Now, Rosemary has been living at Hatherleigh for almost two years and is living with a dementia. Sadly, she is no longer able to enjoy needlework as she used too, due to the progression of her dementia. Despite this, at the home, magazines, fabric, and other textile materials are always available for Rosemary to connect with.

Having these personal and meaningful occupational items around the home creates an opportunity for positive feelings or memories of previous pastimes enjoyed. These can be sparked at the feel of the cotton in between her fingers or at the sight of a beautifully woven tapestry.

Rosemary Henderson is a loved and valued member of the Hatherleigh family who is respected for her impressive engineering career, challenging of the status quo and aspiring to achieve more than many of her contemporaries.

This International Women’s Day, Hatherleigh Nursing Home honour not only Rosemary, but all the incredible women who call Hatherleigh their home and the continual impact they have on society and on their local community.

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National Poetry Day

National Poetry Day at Hatherleigh Nursing Home

Karen Tidy – Carer of People, Rhymer of Words

October 3rd was the 25th anniversary of National Poetry Day and the theme of this year’s literacy celebration was ‘Truth.’

Karen Tidy, a Senior Governance Nurse who supports Hatherleigh Nursing Home, has written a collection of poems about some of the stark realities for people living with a dementia.

Karen, who was thrown into caring for her family after her father had passed away when she was aged ten, made the transition into professional caring when she became of age.

The poetry she writes comes purely from emotions deep within and from past experiences whilst giving end of life care before her time at Hatherleigh Nursing Home. During this time, she observed many people confined to their beds who were unable to verbalise or feed themselves anymore, which prompted her to wonder what they were thinking about and what they were feeling.

She says it is imperative that the people she cared for were still spoken to and included in everyday discussions. As soon as you stop doing that, she explained, that person becomes part of a conveyor belt system, on their way to their end, rather than thinking of them as a living person, complete with their feelings and frailties.

Karen reads her poetry to those who she cares for and loves, to whom so many have been so lucky. An excerpt from Karen’s poem, ‘What is Time to Me?’ is featured below.

What is Time to Me?

A second, a minute, an hour a day

What does it matter to me anyway?

I get up in a morning, have a cup of tea

The time of day doesn’t matter to me.

It seems like a rush, I feel like a number

Just leave me in bed to finish my slumber

Don’t rush me along and then down to the table

Let me take my time – you know I’m not able

To give myself food or make myself clean

Well I am 94, have you not seen

How feeble I am and how slowly I walk

All you do is rush and consistently talk

About which one is next, or what else to do

You just make me feel like a burden to you

I’ve just settled down and sat in my chair

To have 40 winks and then someone’s there

It’s my bath day today I wish they wouldn’t hover

And rush me again it’s just so much bother

Its mid-afternoon I just want to nap

Not be pestered and tugged and dunked in the bath

Leave me ‘till later when I go to bed

But please do not hurry, go slowly instead

And seeing as you’re listening, I might as well say

Don’t put me to bed to get me out your way

I know I might hinder you as I wander around

But I like to feel free to walk up and down

Or to watch the TV once in a while

I’m sorry if this cramps your routine and style

But try and imagine just how I feel

When time dictates every drink, every meal

Every conversation – and sometimes they’re few

Is dictated by how much you’ve got to do

©Karen Tidy 2011

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