Mudcat Café message #3300488 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #143037   Message #3300488
Posted By: Genie
01-Feb-12 - 04:19 PM
Thread Name: Entertaining dementia patients
Subject: RE: Entertaining dementia patients
Virginia Tam,
I don't know how it is in the UK, but in the US - most states anyway - nursing homes do have an "activities" budget (mandated by law for licensing in some states) which is used to pay for everything from Bingo prizes to pet therapy to group music sessions to room-to-room music visits.    Most nursing homes I've contacted do hire some paid musicians, in addition to having music provided free by staff, family members, outside entertainers and even some residents when available.

Some low-budget facilities do book volunteers only, but I've often been told by activity directors that this often leads to entertainer no-shows ("Hey, I'm doing it free, so it's no big deal if I have to cancel last minute.) and/or some sub-par music providers.
I know quite a few musicians who do volunteer at nursing homes, but most of them play/sing only what's already in their repertoire rather than developing playlists geared to the needs and tastes of the nursing home residents. And even when the volunteers are excellent musicians and do great programs, they are often not available very often, especially on a weekday during normal "business hours."
This is why many activity directors choose not to rely on volunteers.

Providing music to nursing homes on a regular basis can be fairly costly in terms of materials, travel expenses, etc.   And if you don't do it as a business, in the US you cannot count any of your costs as "charitable donations" for income tax purposes.   Not a big issue if you just occasionally do volunteer ("hobby") music and don't travel far to do it, but if you make a regular thing of it, there's a real advantage to doing it as a business even if you don't charge very much.