CNMN > Projects > Bringing Everyone Together: Music in Long term care during a Pandemic

Christine Naguib

  • Open (def: scores for unspecified instrumentation)
  • Voice
  • Acoustic instruments
  • Seniors

over the span of a year and a half

  • Health

Bringing Everyone Together: Music in Long term care during a Pandemic


This project brought music to res­i­dents of Colum­bia For­est Long Term Care (LTC) dur­ing the COVID-19  pan­dem­ic, a time of incred­i­ble unpre­dictabil­i­ty, iso­la­tion, fear, and change. The project trans­formed into using music to bring togeth­er LTC staff, res­i­dents and fam­i­ly mem­bers in a stress­ful time where there was more focus on “dis­tance” than unity.

The Project Goals were:

  • To cre­ate a sense of uni­ty and belonging
  • To unite and bring togeth­er res­i­dents and staff in long term care (LTC )homes
  • To empow­er res­i­dents in express­ing them­selves through musi­cal creations
  • To encour­age and empow­er staff to use music through­out their work day
  • To use music as an oppor­tu­ni­ty for staff and res­i­dents to engage and relate to each other
  • To use adapt­able music expe­ri­ences when need­ed to fit an ever chang­ing environment

This project hap­pened organ­i­cal­ly, but in 3 phases.

1. Phase one: Using Music to bring Res­i­dents together. 

In this phase, musi­cal expe­ri­ences were used as a forum to encour­age social engage­ment. Week­ly music groups were con­duct­ed for the res­i­dents by a trained music ther­a­pist who was work­ing in the recre­ation depart­ment. The music groups pro­vid­ed var­i­ous inter­ven­tions such as singing famil­iar songs, instru­ment play­ing, and move­ment to music and were cre­at­ed to fit the needs of the res­i­dents. Music groups includ­ed a week­ly bell choir which brought togeth­er res­i­dents from the same floor but dif­fer­ent units. Please see the video below to watch an excerpt of the bell choir (.13sec) .

2. PHASE TWO: Music expe­ri­ences for the res­i­dents and staff/family care­givers in indi­vid­ual settings 

When groups were not allowed due to COVID infec­tion con­trol poli­cies, music expe­ri­ences for res­i­dents were cre­at­ed in indi­vid­ual set­tings. Staff and fam­i­ly mem­bers were encour­aged to engage and par­tic­i­pate with the res­i­dents when pos­si­ble.  Per­son­al Sup­port Work­ers ( PSWs)  and I col­lab­o­rat­ed to sing togeth­er for res­i­dents indi­vid­u­al­ly. Please see video for an exam­ple of col­lab­o­rat­ing with a PSW to bring a spe­cial musi­cal expe­ri­ence to a res­i­dent in their room (.58). Music was also incor­po­rat­ed in fam­i­ly video calls with res­i­dents which allowed res­i­dents to engage in music with their loved ones even through the dis­tance.  One fam­i­ly mem­ber shared that the music in the video calls were com­fort­ing and important.

The video calls were a chal­lenge for my Mom as she was not used to them. When­ev­er there was music as a part of the call, Mom would stay on the call longer and it was a won­der­ful expe­ri­ence for me at home to watch her sing. ”

3. PHASE 3: Music becom­ing part of the LTC home environment

In this phase, music organ­i­cal­ly became part of the LTC envi­ron­ment. Staff musi­cal  pref­er­ences and dif­fer­ent instru­men­tal music was played dur­ing res­i­dent meal times ( break­fast and lunch) on iPads and Won­der­boom speak­ers.  This not only allowed for a more plea­sure expe­ri­ence the res­i­dents, but also allowed the staff to enjoy some of their favourite music at work. It allowed for staff to bond over some of their favourite songs as well and increased the enjoy­ment of the work­day. Music in the LTC became more com­mu­ni­ty focused and all those involved in the home were wel­come to engage in musi­cal activ­i­ties with res­i­dents: house­keep­ers, nurs­es, fam­i­ly care­givers and pri­vate for­mal care­givers. Music became part of events in the home such as staff bond­ing activ­i­ties  and  cel­e­bra­tions. This was high­light­ed when res­i­dents and staff col­lab­o­rat­ed in choos­ing music to sing for a nurse retire­ment par­ty ( see video expert at 2.52).

Required sup­plies needed:

  • Hand­bell set
  • Var­i­ous per­cus­sion instruments
  • key­board
  • gui­tar
  • A device to play record­ed Music ( iPad and Won­der­boom speak­ers were used)
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