Fiona masters the art of music

Music and Arts Partner Fiona Pritchard with Pearl, a resident who was inspired to take up the violin in a community orchestra for people with dementia.

The positive difference music can make to people living with dementia is the focus of a Master’s degree successfully completed by our Music and Arts Partner Fiona Pritchard.

Drawing on her work in bringing ‘lived’ musical experiences to our residents, Fiona designed a research project which evaluated the benefits for those with dementia who may feel lonely.

Her dissertation is the central part of an MSc in Dementia Studies she has pursued through a distance-learning programme with the University of Bradford. She graduates this autumn.

Fiona said: “I wanted to gain a better understanding of the experience of dementia and the extent to which music shared one-to-one can improve underlying feelings of isolation.

“I completed a relatively small-scale study, but it showed music can definitely help.  It is a universal language and offers an avenue of communication.

“I’m now sharing some elements of what I’ve been doing by providing written guidance for care staff and I hope to roll the findings out more widely as an upskilling opportunity.”

A professional musician, Fiona joined us in 2014, having previously studied at the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.

Her role is to promote and support music and arts activities in all our homes, engaging directly with residents both in participatory group sessions and in more therapeutic individual interactions.

With her MSc completed, Fiona aims to do further research. She is also due to present findings from her dissertation at the national Dementia Congress in Doncaster in November, in conjunction with our Consultant Admiral Nurse Adam Smith.

Fiona said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed studying to complete my Master’s degree and have had really helpful and supportive engagement from residents, relatives and colleagues.”

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