Online singing groups for people with dementia: scoping review

Elsevier, Public Health, Volume 194, May 2021
Dowson B., Schneider J.

Objectives: In the face of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, people with dementia and their carers are contending with serious challenges to their health and wellbeing, due to risk of severe illness, limiting of social contact and disruption to usual activities. Many forms of support for people with dementia and their carers, including singing groups, have moved online using videoconferencing. Previous research has demonstrated the benefits of group singing, which include cognitive stimulation, meaningful activity and peer support. However, although we know which aspects of the singing group experience participants find helpful, we do not know how this experience translates into an online videoconferencing format, and this is a very new field with little existing research. This article reviews the literature pertinent to online singing interventions and uses the findings to develop some suggestions for running an online singing group. Study design: Scoping review. Methods: Systematic literature searches were conducted in EMBASE, Medline, CINAHL, PsycINFO and Web of Science. Owing to the paucity of existing research, searches were also conducted in Google Scholar. The scope of the review covered five related areas: online music making and music therapy, telemedicine and telecare, everyday technology for people with dementia, digital arts and dementia, and use of technology for social interaction and leisure. Our analysis aimed to integrate the results to inform the implementation of online singing groups for people with dementia. Results: Scoping of evidence from discrete fields of enquiry and different disciplinary traditions can inform the delivery of online singing in dementia. This literature also yields useful insights into the role of the carer and how best to support participants to use technology. Barriers and facilitators to online singing were found to relate both to the technology and to the individual participant. Conclusion: Lockdown restrictions have led to much innovation, and this is likely to lead to changes in practice even after normal life resumes. The suggestions in this article will be helpful primarily for practitioners moving into online work and researchers investigating this novel area. They may also be useful to commissioners and policymakers because they reflect current knowledge about best practice.