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Using Music Therapy in Nursing Care

Nurses Leading Innovation
July 13, 2016
Using Music Therapy in Nursing Care

Arizona State University, the Phoenix Symphony and a team from the Huger Mercy Living Center in Phoenix, Ariz., collaborated on a research project, the “Music & Memory” project, to learn how the impact of live music on people living with Alzheimer’s disease. Kristine Carpina, LPN, is a clinical care supervisor at Huger Mercy Living Center. Read on to learn about her perspective for caring for people with Alzheimer’s and the potential for music therapy to increase their quality of life.

NN: What inspired you to get involved with the Music & Memory project? Why did you want to address Alzheimer’s disease?

Kristine: From working at Huger Mercy Living Center, I see the struggle whole families goes through when a resident is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.  I say family and not only resident because Alzheimer’s disease affects everyone that’s connected to the resident. Through the Music & Memory project, I wanted to learn techniques and tactics to care for our residents with music therapy.

NN: Why do you think the nurse perspective was so important for the Music & Memory project?

Kristine: Nurses are the eyes and the ears for most care interventions.  We know our residents individually - their behaviors, their moods and their routines.  Our team was able to watch what was happening around us while considering every part of the disease (i.e. behaviors, moods) and evaluate ways in which the solutions from the project could benefit the residents.

NN: How would you define your patients’ care team?

Kristine: My team is anyone that has any connection to the residents.  All of us here in Huger, from the manager to the maintenance engineer, to the family and friends that visit are part of the team. This include doctors, nurses, outside vendors such as hairdressers, yoga instructors and entertainers. 

NN: How has the program impacted how you treat patients?

Kristine: It allowed me to see a different side of my patients. I think here at Huger we have always used music in some way as part of our therapy and intervention, since we are an activity based facility.  But the project was a great study for us to be a part of because it gave us so many more ideas for interventions and applications of music therapy.   

NN: How does your nurse training/perspective impact your approach to problem-solving?

Kristine: Nurses have to think fast, while being safe and coming up with a solution all at the same time.

NN: How can nurses encourage creativity in nursing practice? What types of insights can nurses offer when it comes to healthcare innovation?

Kristine: There are many needs to be met and I think we are becoming very creative when it comes to finding solutions.  I have a friend who was a nurse before becoming a clothing designer in the Philippines who designed “on-the go” pants for people who wear catheters.  Even when you are not working actively in the field, there is always a way to bring your nursing perspective into your work.

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