What is the ‘Harmony in the Bush’ Dementia study?
It is an ambitious national dementia research project that seeks to identify key drivers of a personalised care, and use co-design principles to implement and evaluate a personalised model of care incorporating music/art and movement interventions for residents with dementia in 5 rural aged care homes in South Australia and Far North Queensland.
The project is funded by a two-year $1.5 million 'innovation in dementia care' grant from the Australian government.
Objective of the Research
To Expand the Progressively Lowered Stress Threshold (PLST) model of care for residents with dementia by incorporating individualised preferred music/art and movement interventions to co-design a personalised model of care that reduces levels of challenging behaviours and improves wellbeing in residents with dementia, minimises carers’ stress, and brings about a positive residential aged care culture change.
We anticipate that this approach will result in long-term positive outcomes for residents with dementia in residential aged care facilities, and a parallel stress reduction in aged care staff.
History - Why Harmony in the Bush?
This project took shape through the impact of two projects which were undertaken in the Riverland region during 2017. The first, 'Spinback' (pictured at left), was a partnership between Flinders Rural Health SA and Country Arts SA, where local school children and residents from a local nursing home came together the engage in music and art making activities, as well as to enjoy fellowship and break down intergenerational barriers to form meaningful relationships for young and old alike.
The second project, 'Music and Memory', involved residents from a Renmark nursing home currently living with dementia, who were given music to listen to (chosen by the resident) for 30 minutes each day, in order to observe the responses and effects of regular listening on their behaviour, social interactions, and memory retention.
Both projects were extremely successful, and demonstrated the immense potential value of visual arts, music and dance on the wellbeing, improved mental heath and quality of life of dementia sufferers. This new project takes these ideas, and seeks to find concrete and meaninful ways to help older Australians, and in particular those living with dementia, to live full and enjoyable lives into the future.