Corona dramatically affects the lives of residents and care staff at Frittemahof residential care center in Sneek, part of Patyna. Getting together and doing activities together are no longer a given. In November 2020, the residential care center went into a five-week quarantine due to a corona outbreak. This made the measures even stricter. Residents had to stay in their rooms all this time and were not allowed visitors. All the while, music remained an important constant. Activity supervisor Moses Ouchene: “You need each other, but at the same time you have to keep your distance from each other. Thanks to music, it often feels very close again anyway.”
Before corona, Moses organized a weekly music morning in the living room and a well-attended sing-along morning in the auditorium every Monday. For Moses, music is more than a hobby: music is inseparable from his work as an activity leader at Frittemahof. But all that is no longer possible in the “normal” way.
Music through the walls
But music remained a unifying factor, even when Frittemahof was “locked up” in November 2020 because of a corona outbreak. Moses: “That was very difficult. Residents had to stay in their rooms, and activities with a limited number of participants were also no longer possible. My turntable is on the second floor, from where I overlook the auditorium. From that spot, I continued to play music during Monday sing-along mornings. Extra loud, so the music could be heard by everyone, through the walls. Surely you all experience it together in this way. We circulated, coronaproof, a bucket in which people could deposit a bill with request numbers.”
It’s weird again
This tough time also meant saying goodbye to residents. Moses: “That comes very hard. Those empty rooms make a deep impression. Then new people come to welcome them, the strictest measures are lifted and suddenly more is allowed. At that moment it is also very strange. Activities are allowed again, but with a limited number of people, and that is difficult to explain. Why is my neighbor being picked up for an activity and I am not? We do our best to comfort and calm people in such a situation. But sometimes it’s complicated for a while.” Meanwhile, plans for new activities are already underway. Moses: “Soon we will start moving to music: that in turn stimulates other parts of the brain that are involved in emotion, motor skills, memory and language, among other things. We expect that our residents will also enjoy this very much.”
‘Singing is no longer allowed‘
Before corona, there was a lot of singing at Frittemahof. Many caregivers sing while administering medication, when greeting or at bedtime. “Getting up and getting dressed can just become a party with singing,” Moses said. “But we can’t do that anymore at this point, because by singing you can spread the virus, we take that fact very seriously. The safety of our residents is paramount to us.” He still does sing to people: “But of course only at a sufficient distance.”
Music is a language that touches us all
Music thus remains a constant within Frittemahof, within the rules of what is possible. From his turntable, overlooking the auditorium, Moses spins music every Monday morning: “Getting together in the auditorium to sing together, that is unfortunately not possible. But enjoying it together, we do. I’m sure. Music is a language that touches us all, evoking memories, moving with our emotions and releasing emotions. We may not get close, music may. In this way, music can be an answer to the situation we are all in right now. And from which we will also emerge.”
Online Inspiration Sessions
Moses, along with other care staff at Frittemahof, attended Embrace Netherlands’ Music and Dementia workshop series. The goal of the workshops is to promote the well-being of people with dementia and give care workers tools to use music in daily care practice. These workshops are not taking place physically at this time. However, it is possible to participate in the Program Online Inspiration Sessions for healthcare workers and caregivers.