Innovative ‘silent disco’ is helping people living with dementia

Blog Innovative Silent Disco Is Helping People Living With Dementia

An award-winning team of carers at Ozcare on the Gold Coast have taken an innovative approach to helping improve the lives of people living with dementia.

Ozanam Villa Burleigh Heads is the first aged care facility in Queensland to trial silent discos – a newest form of therapy that is fast growing across Australia.

The NSW pioneer of the Move and Groove program, part of discoDtours, lead one of the therapy sessions at Ozanam Villa on October 5.

Ozcare’s diversional therapist Michele Roche, a recent winner of the Catholic Health Australia’s Leadership in Positive Ageing Award, said the program started in August but was already having a huge impact on residents living with severe dementia.

“One resident was so engaged she said: “For a moment, I completely forgot I couldn’t walk and I was dancing in my head and having so much fun,” Ms Roche said.

“I have observed residents who are normally unable to sit for more than a few minutes, become engaged singing words to songs and dancing.”

Move and Groove Program Manager Sally Fuller said the silent disco works by giving each resident a set of headphones to listen to popular songs from their era while they follow the dance moves and instructions of an instructor.

“It is very immersive because they hear not only the music from the 1930, 40s and 50s, but they also hear audio of us speaking,” Ms Fuller said.

“A good beat, a lovely song – it all evokes all sorts of memories. We have definitely had some amazing things happen. The music goes right into their ears and for some reason makes them lose all of their inhibitions.”

Since its launch in July this year, the pilot program has rolled out across 10 aged care facilities nationwide.

Ozcare was one of the first to gain accreditation, with staff undertaking online training before introducing the sessions.

The unique dance moves have been designed by exercise physiologist and are targeted at building core strength and fall prevention.

Ms Roche said residents unable to attend the three group sessions held each week take part by wearing the headphones in their beds.

“Residents get lost in their own memories as you only hear the music and the instructor not the outside surroundings – it is a wonderful experience to see it in action,” Ms Roche said.