A New Approach

Taking a New Approach With Bridgewell Day Programs

Recently, we had the opportunity to develop new programming for an established client. This is always an exciting endeavor, as it allowed us to build upon strong relationships and reinvigorate our staff as we continue to tailor our programs to meet the needs of those we serve. Our music therapists have been providing group music therapy to Bridgewell’s residential homes since 2012. In a bid to bring music to the participants of their day programs, Bridgewell worked with us to create a menu of programs that would enhance the community culture that is central to the Bridgewell experience.

The new model of service delivery consists of a thematic focus determined by one of our music therapists and staff. Registered participants have opportunities to build on goals and demonstrate progress throughout the six week series. At the end, there is the opportunity to share their work through a demonstration or performance for the entire day program community through a Universal Music Therapy Event. Unlike other models, we have also built staff-training into the series so that everyone knows how to support participants.

Laetitia Brundage, MT-BC, and Maureen Young, MT-BC, are the therapists working with these groups. Some examples of the themes their groups have been working on are: Disney songs with a therapeutic twist, memory care, songwriting to improve activities of daily living, exploration of different music genres and using movement, instrument play, and singing to improve peer-to-peer interactions. Both therapists have seen an increase in confidence and comfort within their groups. Laetitia points out that her group “demonstrated pride and confidence in their songwriting, and included contributions from every member, including one who is nonverbal”.

Maureen has noted that “the most wonderful moments that I’ve seen definitely involve facilitating experiences that allow for meaningful interactions between group members and staff.  These groups really increase the mood and joy of both group members and staff. Group members are also given the opportunity to be leaders in a supportive and inclusive environment. It is wonderful to see individuals of a variety of abilities participating in a group setting together, as they are all able to access music in their own way”.

The inclusion of staff development into the program has encouraged the staff to be more present and participatory in these group experiences. By training the staff of the Bridgewell Day Programs on how they can help support the music, we are empowering the staff to make meaningful contributions to the participants’ therapeutic experience. The staff members working with Laetitia’s groups really responded to being asked for their input. They gave pointers, helped Laetitia know each person better and even reported benefits for themselves.

Maureen has observed that since collaborating with the staff at her programs, they seem to have a better understanding of what to expect during session and what their role is, in terms of stepping in and getting involved. Maureen says that “The staff has really seemed to start taking ownership of the music and feeling more comfortable using it as a tool on their own”.