Timeless children’s songs and bright classics filled the room for young and young-at-heart to share for a musical playgroup session in an aged care home.
A small group of young families were the first to share in the special music therapy session at Royal Freemasons Ballarat on Thursday, in what will be a weekly visit for residents.
Carousel Music Therapy works on offering older adults a chance to reminisce and connect with young children, particularly those who may have limited exposure to older adults.
For resident Joyce, words to the tunes came back surprisingly quick to her, but she mostly loved the energy from young families having fun in the room.
“It’s a wonderful mix. They’re all so lovely. Everyone’s interested in everyone else,” Joyce said. “It’s so wonderful to see mothers and fathers spending time with their children and really enjoying their children.”
Children share their instruments with residents but the highlight was hitting balloons to each other during The Chordette’s Lollipop and the bubble machine during I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.
Carousel founder and director Imogen Rees was impressed with how quickly Ballarat families had embraced the community concept. The program has a waiting list but has been kept to a small group so as not to overwhelm residents or children.
Ms Rees, a music therapist, developed the program when working in aged care and noticing the change in dynamics when child relatives would come to visit.
“There’s a beautiful and unique response to the music,” Ms Rees said. “Nursery rhymes are so timeless, everybody knows them. Even residents who may be in advanced stages of dementia and might not be able to string a sentence together, but they know the tune from whn they were young.”
The program also works in songs from the 1930s, 40s and 50s that may be childlike and fun. Ms Rees has launched the weekly program across Melbourne and this was the first group in Ballarat. She said the group promoted social and emotional support and self-expression for older adults and connection with children and families.
Almost all Royal Freemasons residents turned out for the first session – some even cancelled their popular hair salon appointments to attend. They can hardly wait to reconnect with their new little friends via song.