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Press Releases

Sea View Rehab Center and Nursing Home Launches Music & Memory Program for Alzheimers and Dementia Patients

Therapeutic Benefits of Personalized Music on iPods Enhance Memories and Lives of Nursing Home Residents

Feb 13, 2013

New York, NY

The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) and The Fund for HHC today announced that HHC’s Sea View Hospital Rehabilitation Center and Home on Staten Island has launched the Music & Memory program, which brings iPods loaded with personalized music selections to patients with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia to enhance their memories and enrich their lives. Grounded in research about how brains respond to music, the pilot program will engage 15 Sea View residents who will have the opportunity to benefit from the therapeutic potential of music to tap deep memories and reconnect with the world.
“A personalized music program has been proven to be a life-changing experience for many elderly and dementia patients. We hope this program will demonstrate the powerful ability of music to engage, animate, support memory retrieval, and return a sense of dignity and identity to patients,” said HHC President Alan D. Aviles.
“Listening to favorite music often triggers feelings and memories of the past. Residents become more cheerful, less agitated, and can sit contentedly for longer periods of time,” said Kelly Curry, director of the Music & Memory program at Sea View. “Patients who previously were remote, disengaged and completely unresponsive can remarkably become animated, tap, sway, and sing to favorite rhythms, can answer questions, and hold conversations.”
“We have seen with our own eyes the remarkable affect that this program has on patients,” said Joe Schick, Executive Director of The Fund for HHC. “The Fund is delighted to support a program that consistently produces such positive and powerful outcomes. We are looking forward to spreading the program to additional HHC facilities in the near future.”
“This program helps assist each participant in reaching his or her highest level of functioning and improving quality of life, which is what we strive for with every resident at Sea View,” said Angelo Mascia, Executive Director of the facility.
The first Sea View residents to participate in the program are dementia patients who often have been reluctant to participate in recreational activities. Staff members interviewed families about each patient’s favorite songs and preferred genres of music and created playlists specific to each participant. The music was downloaded onto personal iPods for each of the residents. Music sessions are scheduled two to three times a week, or as an intervention to decrease agitation, anxiety, and depression, as well as to elicit feelings of well-being.
Sea View staff members will track the results and monitor changes in behaviors and medication doses to measure the program’s outcomes. They hope to expand the program to other residents and eventually standardize the practice among the entire patient population.
The Fund for HHC was instrumental in establishing the Music & Memory program at Sea View. Last June, The Fund arranged a viewing of the film “Alive Inside” for HHC senior leadership and clinicians. The film, produced by Michael Rossado Bennett, powerfully documents the ability of this musical intervention program. The viewing led to the desire to replicate such a program for the benefit of HHC patients. The Fund then worked closely with Music & Memory founder Dan Cohen to establish a pilot program at Sea View. It coordinated a work plan with Sea View staff, arranged for staff training, and supplied the initial 15 iPods.
Founded in 2006, Music & Memory is a non-profit organization that brings personalized music into the lives of the elderly or infirm using digital music technology. Music & Memory’s work is rooted in extensive neuroscience research that shows consistent results. The proven benefits include:

  • Increases cooperation and attention, reduces resistance to care.
  • Reduces agitation.
  • Enhances engagement and socialization, fostering a calmer social environment.
  • Provides a valuable tool for the effort to reduce reliance on anti-psychotic and anti-anxiety medications.

Staff members at Sea View are already seeing results:

  • A resident who is generally non-communicative and often paces in an agitated manner for long periods of time heard her old favorites on the iPod and sat peacefully listening and tapping her feet in time. She told staff members she liked the music.
  • Another resident who is also non-communicative sang along to Barbra Streisand songs, tapped her fingers and feet to the music, and said, “This song – it always makes me cry. She has such a beautiful voice.”
  • Activity therapists have found that after a Music & Memory listening period, residents are relaxed, calmer, and less likely to be disruptive, and that meal times are more cheerful and peaceful.

In February 2012, Coler-Goldwater Specialty Hospital and Nursing Facility, also a member of HHC, launched a pilot of a program called Well-Tuned, a collaborative initiative between Music & Memory and the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function. At present 54 Coler-Goldwater patients are enrolled in the program, and hospital staff reports similar positive and notable differences in attitude and behavior among those patients.
Read the Staten Island Advance story, Staten Island residents reawaken connections to past and present through Music and Memory program.

About Sea View

Sea View is a 302 bed long term care facility of the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation and is certified by NYS Department of Health and The Joint Commission. Sea View is the recipient of the coveted Joint Commission Codman Award and has maintained its Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) five star rating since 2008.

About The Fund for HHC

The Fund for HHC secures external support for a variety of HHC programs and awareness-building efforts. The Fund is a catalyst for innovative approaches to help HHC patients gain improved access to safe, high quality healthcare. It works closely with HHC clinical and management staff to identify projects that align with HHC’s mission and strategic priorities, to secure financial support for them. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.thefundforhhc.org.

About HHC

The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) is a $6.7 billion integrated healthcare delivery system with its own 420,000 member health plan, MetroPlusHealth, and is the largest municipal healthcare organization in the country. HHC serves 1.4 million New Yorkers every year and more than 475,000 are uninsured. HHC provides medical, mental health and substance abuse services through its 11 acute care hospitals, five skilled nursing facilities, six large diagnostic and treatment centers and more than 70 community based clinics. HHC Health and Home Care also provides in-home services for New Yorkers. HHC was the 2008 recipient of the National Quality Forum and The Joint Commission’s John M. Eisenberg Award for Innovation in Patient Safety and Quality. For more information, visit www.nychhc.org/hhc or find us on facebook.com/NYCHealthSystem or twitter.com/NYCHealthSystem.