Dec 14, 2020

By Christine Ross

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This Christmas will look different for many, especially for seniors in long term care. But a new music program available to some Toronto nursing home residents is transforming their lives amid the isolation of the pandemic. Music Share, part of Ryerson’s  Social Venture Zone is a non profit founded by Julian Powell. A musician himself, this Ryerson grad received a $10,000 grant to test the pilot and the results are clear.

“We’ve been receiving videos the homes of the residents actually singing along, dancing in their chair, really coming alive and responding to the music,” said Powell.

Cherrie Salandanan is director of resident programs at St. George Care Community where 30 percent of the residents take part in Music Share.

“A lot of the songs are more reminiscent of their childhood so it’s really good to see them brighten up and become more lively,” said Salandanan.

For seniors who can’t speak fluent English, Powell says he’s excited to help bridge the language barrier.

“We’re able to provide them with music that’s in their native tongue and it might be the first time in years that some of these people have actually heard their language spoken back to them so that’s a really exciting moment,” added Powell.

Before the pandemic, the program brought youth and seniors together in the home to share the music.

Now, the seniors request the song, and personalized playlists are loaded onto an Ipad and delivered to six nursing homes with plans to expand next year.

“It truly helps the residents in terms of their isolation,” remarked Salandanan.

“What we’re trying to do is connect them back to memories, loved ones, moments in their lives that are special and meaningful through the music,” said Powell.

For more information visit WE ARE MUSIC SHARE

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