CamdenNewJournal

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Chorus of approval for care home piano

Music therapy leaves residents feeling calmer and more content, says home manager

05 January, 2017 — By Tom Foot, Zita Lanzara

Music therapist Gary Ansdell at the piano with Rathmore House resident John Beaver

THE triumphant conclusion of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy resonated through a care home as one resident rekindled childhood memories of playing the piano.

John Beaver, 75, is over the moon after Rathmore House in Eton Avenue, Swiss Cottage, got a new piano thanks to shoppers at Waitrose in Finchley Road.

Money raised through the supermarket’s “community matters” fundraising scheme has gone on an upright piano as part of special music therapy sessions in the Swiss Cottage home.

Music therapist professor Gary Ansdell, who visits the home every week, helped pick out the special piano.

Mr Beaver said: “I got my love of music from my mother. We had a piano at home and I’ve been playing for more than 60 years. I couldn’t be without music, it is so important to me. I get one-to-one time with Gary when he comes in and I treasure our time together at the piano. We’re working on a couple of pieces at the moment but my favourite is Beethoven’s Ode to Joy.”

Mr Ansdell, who works with Parliament Hill charity Nordoff Robins, has almost 30 years’ experience in music therapy and has written extensively on the subject, focusing recently on working with elderly people.

He said: “Evidence has shown that music has a dramatic effect on well-being for care home residents. John’s enjoyment is clear, but music also allows us to connect with residents at Rathmore House who have dementia, in a way that other forms of communication can’t. Even if people can only tap their foot or move a finger in time to the music, they are engaged and included and that’s incredibly important.

“It’s wonderful to see John’s joy while he’s playing, but also his sense of achievement.”

Rathmore House is a 20-bed home run by C&C and offers largely dementia care.

Home manager Rachel Musrati said: “Gary has an ability to involve and engage people no matter what their abilities. The positive effects of his visits are not short lived – people here can be much calmer, less anxious and more content for some time after he’s gone.”

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