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St. Joseph’s Health enriches patient well-being through music therapy

Music therapy can improve depression symptoms in dementia patients and reduce agitation and stress, making it a valuable resource for staff in long-term care settings. In 2019, St. Joseph’s Health in Syracuse began a project to evaluate how personalized music therapy could positively impact the quality and safety of care for geriatric inpatients in its acute care settings.

Hearing a song with positive meaning or emotion can offer calmness, joy or feelings of safety. With this in mind, St. Joseph’s educated nursing staff on one of the clinical units on how to order personalized healing music for their confused, agitated and safety-concern patients. After the initial pilot, staff observed positive outcomes and received affirmative feedback from staff and families. The facility also expanded the program to the rest of the hospital while further evaluating its impact. Agitated geriatric inpatients were measured for changes in attention span, impulsivity, resistance to care, anger or other excessive or unsafe motions and behaviors.

Using the Agitated Behavior Scale, post-healing music scores decreased from two to 14 points per patient. The facility continues to implement its music therapy program for new inpatients and staff report multiple patients requesting “their” music on readmission for care.

We thank former clinical educator Natina Reed MSN, RNC, AGNP-BC for her efforts with this initiative. For more information, contact, Tricia Spoto, EdD, RN, SJH performance excellence coordinator and colleague educator, at Tricia.spoto@sjhsyr.org.