Music Connects Us: Development of a Music-Based Group Activity Intervention to Engage People Living with Dementia and Address Loneliness

Healthcare (Basel). 2021 May 12;9(5):570. doi: 10.3390/healthcare9050570.


There is a need for intervention research to understand how music-based group activities foster engagement in social interactions and relationship-building among care home residents living with moderate to severe dementia. The purpose of this conceptual paper is to describe the design of 'Music Connects Us', a music-based group activity intervention. Music Connects Us primarily aims to promote social connectedness and quality of life among care home residents living with moderate to severe dementia through engagement in music-making, supporting positive social interactions to develop intimate connections with others. To develop Music Connects Us, we adapted the 'Music for Life' program offered by Wigmore Hall in the United Kingdom, applying an intervention mapping framework and principles of engaged scholarship. This paper describes in detail the Music Connects Us program, our adaptation approach, and key adaptations made, which included: framing the project to focus on the engagement of the person living with dementia to ameliorate loneliness; inclusion of student and other community-based musicians; reduced requirements for care staff participation; and the development of a detailed musician training approach to prepare musicians to deliver the program in Canada. Description of the development, features, and rationale for Music Connects Us will support its replication in future research aimed to tests its effects and its use in clinical practice.

Keywords: dementia; engagement; group activity; intervention design; loneliness; meaningful activity; music.