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The Willows residents enjoying a music therapy session

Pedal power has helped raise vital funds for music therapy in MHA’s care homes after four colleagues from APS Group cycled from France to Cheadle and raised £20,000 for the service.

The older person’s charity MHA provides music therapy free of charge for some of its residents living with dementia in its 54 specialist dementia care homes but wants to expand the service so all people living in these homes receives the service.

And thanks to the cycling power of APS Group Managing Director, Nick Snelson, his colleagues Executive Director John Holmes, Production and Logistics Director Stephen Goodall and Dave Barratt, New Business Development Director at MMP, the appeal to raise more funds has been boosted by £20,000.

Nick visited MHA’s The Willows care home in Mobberley, Cheshire, to see for himself the power of music therapy and to officially hand over the money raised to MHA’s Chair of the Board of Trustees John Robinson and Chief Music Therapist Ming Hung Hsu.

It followed the 600 mile cycle ride from La Rochelle in France to Cheadle, near Manchester, where APS Group has its headquarters. In addition to the four cycling this route, Nick’s brother Rick Snelson cycled from Lands End to John O’Groats to raise funds for music therapy.

Nick said: “They say a picture may be worth a thousand words, but music carries a million memories … and after seeing the effects of music therapy, this has never been truer. Contributing to this cause has been an honour.”

Chief music therapist Ming Hung Hsu said: “The support that Nick and the team from APS Group has given to raising money for music therapy is fantastic and will help us provide more music therapy sessions.

“We were delighted to be able to show Nick a group music therapy session, which he was able to take part in, so he could see for himself how music therapy makes a difference to our residents’ lives.

“We know from the work that we do on a daily basis how music therapy really helps our residents living with dementia. Working alongside the care teams, we can look at strategies which can help reduce anxiety and agitation a resident might be experiencing. It might be a favourite piece of music which helps calm them, a particular rhythm that we discover through sessions which we can bring into their every day lives.”

Music therapy differs from a sing-a-long for residents, important though these are. In music therapy sessions, trained therapists interact directly with residents through live music. This can be through singing, playing simple percussion instruments or responding to musical cues, as well as the exchange of verbal, facial, vocal and bodily expressions. It is through this interaction that music therapists help reduce the anxiety and agitation which dementia can cause, as well as help staff understand possible causes of these symptoms.

MHA is one of the largest employers of music therapy with 21 music therapists and a pioneer in the field. In 2016/17, the charity provided 10,940 music therapy sessions, both in one-to-one and group settings. But it wants to do more and expand this vital service to all residents living with dementia in its care homes. To do this, MHA needs to raise an extra £1.5 million to employ 35 more music therapists to support all its residents living with dementia. Each one-to-one session costs £30. 

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