A FIRST-of-its-kind treatment being pioneered by the Royal Bolton Hospital is hitting the right note — literally!

The hospital has struck up a partnership with an orchestra to provide music therapy to in-patients with dementia.

Manchester Camerata is delivering a 30-week ‘Music in Mind’ programme on the wards to help people who have dementia while they are receiving treatment for a different medical or surgical treatment.

Medical teams say that such patients can find being in hospital disorientating and music can have a calming effect.

Lucy Geddes, Camerata in the Community Manager, said that the project was not about playing music to patients, rather it was about playing music with patients.

She said: “Rather than being music for people, this is music with people. It gives patients living with dementia the chance to contribute to the music-making. This could be by tapping a drum or playing the bells — any contribution is valid.

“The result is that they feel empowered and in control of what they are doing, and their mood therefore often improves. People who are not able to communicate verbally can often communicate through music.”

Such therapy is used in care homes and community centres, but the Royal Bolton Hospital is the first to have become part of Camerata’s Music in Mind project.

It is being led by Manchester Camerata’s principal horn Naomi Atherton and music therapist Brigitte Jones, who uses a keyboard.

The orchestra has found that similar work carried out in the community since 2012 has shown that regular music-making does lead to a improvements in people with dementia.

This includes their mood, communication and relationships with carers or family members.

In some cases, staff have been able to reduce a person’s medication as a result of an improvement in mood and reduction in agitation.

Chris Davidson, Dementia Nurse Specialist at the Royal Bolton Hospital, said the programme was proving highly effective.

He said: “It is very moving to see a patient who has been agitated and upset start to calm down as they join in with the music.

“Often the musicians and staff are rewarded with a smile of pure pleasure from the patient.”

Manchester Camerata has also provided training sessions for the staff and instruments for them to use on the wards to keep the project going.

Mr Davidson added: “The project gives staff the chance to interact with patients in a different way and may change their perceptions.

“The hospital is really keen to understand the needs of patients with dementia.

“Working with Manchester Camerata has given all of us an opportunity to change things for the better for them.”

The project has received £11,000 from the People’s Postcode Trust.