A Long Island, New York, continuing care retirement community is bringing music to residents’ ears.
The Shores at Peconic Landing, the retirement community’s skilled nursing center, has formed a duo with the East End Arts, a not-for profit arts organization, for their latest hit, Music by the Bedside.
The experiential music program brings live music performances to the bedside of seniors receiving palliative care. LeadingAge New York recently named the program one of its 2016 Innovation of the Year award winners.
“This exchange is different in that it adds a level of intimacy to the performance,” says Gregory J. Garrett, executive vice president and administrator of Health Services for Peconic Landing to Long-Term Living. “It is a one-on-one exchange, and our members have the opportunity to request songs and to sit and talk with the performers all in the comfort of their own room. Sometimes family joins them for the performance, making it a special event.”
East End Arts arranges for local volunteer musicians, including its own music students and faculty, to visit the facility once a month, where they give two individual performances in half-hour sessions. More than a dozen musicians, including vocalists, violinists, pianists and ukulele players have given performances to more than 20 people since Music by the Bedside began in October 2015.
Peconic’s social worker asks residents and family members for requests, and works with East End Arts to match musician volunteers based on their personality, skill set and repertoire—often show tunes and Broadway classics.
“For some members living with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, they may not be able to communicate in the traditional way,” Garrett says. “But when you see these individuals connect with the songs and the performers, you know that they have found moments of peace by their expressions and their body language. We have had members who are normally nonresponsive begin clapping, singing the lyrics and even start dancing in their seat. They become engaged with the performer.”