iPod program proving effective at calming residents with agitation at Springdale


LEC says staff support has helped make Music of Your Life successful

Springdale Country Manor’s Music of Your Life program is curbing agitation for residents affected by cognitive impairment, and all of the home’s staff members have contributed to this success, says Candice Stewart, the home’s life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC).

In March, the Peterborough long-term care home received four iPod shuffles through the Music of Your Life program, an initiative to create individualized playlists for people with cognitive impairment to help ease agitation and mitigate responsive behaviours.

Since then, the iPods have been kept in Stewart’s office and they have been “coming and going all the time.” Nurses, the LEC says, spot residents experiencing agitation and get the iPods and offer them to the residents.

More often than not, residents who wish to try the iPods have found them a source of comfort when the music starts playing, Stewart says.

“The music is working wonderfully,” she tells The OMNIway. “When someone is really upset about something and you start singing a song that’s on the iPod, everything turns around – the headphones go on and there’s a smile on their face. It’s amazing.”

While several residents have tried the iPods, there are two residents in particular who use them often. As soon as the music starts playing, they’re no longer agitated, Stewart says.

For example, one of the residents is often anxious and looking for her daughter. But when the resident puts on the headphones and starts listening to one of her favourite songs, she starts singing and clapping her hands and two-steps down the hallway.

Another resident who sometimes wanders will become calm and start whistling and snapping fingers when Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison is played for him.

“It takes him to a happy, familiar place, somewhere that he can connect to,” Stewart says, adding residents’ family members have been helpful working with staff to create iPod playlists.

Stewart says all staff members – especially front-line staff – have been helpful making the program successful. People will see that a resident is agitated and come to her office to get an iPod.

“It has been a team effort from everyone,” she says.

Earlier this year, the Rotary Club of Peterborough donated money to Peterborough’s Geriatric Health Services to buy 66 iPod shuffles to be donated to area long-term care homes, retirement communities and the Victoria Order of Nurses’ adult day program. Remaining iPods are being stored at the Peterborough Public Library.

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