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How music eases vaccination anxiety

by Joe Caretalk

Vaccinations are on all our minds at the moment, potentially causing a degree of agitation for many. A new guide shows how music can be used to help alleviate COVID-19 jab anxiety for people living with dementia, and its information has universal relevance.

Entitled ‘A dose of music with your COVID-19 vaccination’, the guide explains how music can be used to manage the physiological symptoms and psychological response to vaccinations among people with dementia. 

The 1-page guide includes advice for carers, health practitioners and individuals on how music helps, with practical measures to take before, during and after the jab to manage the experience and make it more pleasant. 

Led by the campaign Music for Dementia, ‘Dose of music’ has been co-produced by leading organisations in music and care for people with dementia. 

Although conceived originally for people living with this condition, the information in the guide is also useful for people with other conditions or impairments who may be distressed or agitated by vaccinations or unusual events.

Suitable for sending to individuals or their carers in advance of their vaccination date, and for displaying at vaccination centres, the guide is complemented by an infographic highlighting key points.

In recent weeks music as a therapeutic counterfoil to anxiety has been put into practice at vaccination venues such as Salisbury cathedral, where organ music was played live to people awaiting and receiving their COVID vaccination. 

Grace Meadows, Programme Director of Music for Dementia, said: “There is no situation that is immune to the power of music. We have seen this time and time again during the pandemic. The vaccination experience is no different; the calming and soothing properties of music can help reduce anxiety around having the vaccination, particularly for those living with dementia. 

Vic Rayner, Executive Director, National Care Forum, said: “It’s official. We want you to bang the drum for vaccination, or sound the trumpet or tinkle the ivories! We don’t mind what instrument you pick – but this guidance will give you some real inspiration as to how you can use the incredible power of music to support people in planning for and having the COVID-19 vaccination.”

The Very Revd Nicholas Papadopulos, Dean of Salisbury, commented: “Bach, Handel… or Rodgers and Hammerstein: here in Salisbury, the mellifluous music of the Cathedral organ has helped thousands of vaccination patients to feel welcome and at ease. Music is one of the most sublime gifts we can offer one another, and its impact on human wellbeing is transformational.”  

Co-producers of the ‘Dose of Music’ document include: National Care Forum, National Activity Providers Association (NAPA), Methodist Homes Association (MHA), Dementia Change Action Network, Live Music Now and Music in Hospitals & Care. Contributors included music therapists and a retired GP, now living with dementia.

It can be viewed and downloaded from the Music for Dementia website.

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