Tap to the App

Finalist category: Community Impact Award

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Community Impact Award, Finalist, 2018

Creative digital inclusion for older people in care home settings.

As part of Music in Hospitals & Care Scotland’s Tap to the App Project, 45 individuals in care homes across Scotland aged 60-98 were invited to attend creative digital workshops to make music choices for their tailored live music concerts. They aimed to develop digital skills and inform meaningful live music choices for overall quality of life.

Tap to the App has helped us to get closer to our beneficiaries giving us the opportunity to find out first-hand music preferences and needs for meaningful live music provision. This provides an alternative creative approach to requesting preferences with care teams by completing forms,  providing an opportunity for activity, enabling people to share their love of music, favourite songs and share memories together.  It has given them the opportunity to find out first-hand music preferences and needs for meaningful live music provision and to bring this to life by providing live musical performances based on these requests and also bring basic digital skills, music composing and social interaction through meaningful activity.

25 digital creative workshops were held across care homes in Aberdeen and Glasgow and involved older people using iPads to help remember facts about favourite artists and searching images. The sharing of mutual interests in the group helped to forge bonds and commonality and recorded the process along the way, with residents taking photos to remember their experience as a normal part of life at home and to record a video diary during the workshops and after the end live music performances to gain in the moment and immediate feedback, something very important particularly for those suffering from dementia symptoms.

Group discussion around live music and sharing of interests relating to music choices built confidence in using digital and participants reported feeling empowered by the experience and had developed new found skills, participating and creating their own live music, in a social group setting.

You can have a listen here: https://soundcloud.com/user-733918506/sets/tap-to-the-app/s-F5k8j

This pilot project found that technology can offer great potential for those in care, most participants had little or no experience of technology at the start of the project. One particular individual was unable to form sentences but was able to sing pitches and create vowel sounds through being positively engaged in music. Many were resistant to touching the iPad or felt under confident about their ability. Across a series of workshops individuals were using the technology for self-expression, to communicate with family, sign their name on the iPad and compose their own music or explore interests in instrument sounds. They enjoyed searching online to find out about what happened to musicians they remembered in the past through Wikipedia and exploring news sites and one gentleman used it to reconnect with his dulcimer instrument which he used to play.

Residents developed in confidence throughout the workshops, noting increased levels of happiness during the sessions with one individual commenting that “it’s so nice to be together” highlighting the increased levels of social inclusion. Additionally, through the use of music and discussion, individuals shared information about themselves that was new to other participants and activities coordinators – often reminiscing about the time when they first heard a song, or e.g. that a musician was a favourite of their fathers.

Access to technology for these groups gave opportunities for social interaction and sharing, empowerment through choice and control, reminiscence and getting to know those they lived alongside. Using fun apps to create live music in the moment and to take photos, play instruments and have independence in their lives. For those with limited mobility or speech technology offered the ability for choice making to ensure we could respond in the live music performance repertoire and genre to their interests.

The project offers the opportunity to involve activity co-ordinators and care teams in being skilled up to be able to continue these activities longer term to inform our live music provision. It is hoped that we can provide this model in other care homes to create digital music champions and help us to continue to provide meaningful live music in these settings.

The music you hear in the film was written by a lady in a care home in Aberdeen in memory of her husband which she was proud. The recording was provided to her family after she herself sadly passed away which was a positive legacy.

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AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards are organised by AbilityNet and BT and supported by a range of sponsors and partners.