Community-based music intervention as a means to enhance health and wellbeing of people living with dementia and bring support to their family and caregivers

Implementation and evaluation of two community-based music interventions aimed to enhance the well-being and quality of life of people living with dementia and care partners.

Key information

Who is this project for? This project is for people living with dementia in community, long-term care and hospital settings, and family and friend care partners. This project is also intended for populations 55 and older who are living in the community and at risk of developing dementia.

Project Lead: University of Ottawa

Project partners: Bruyère, The Royal Hospital, Vanier Community Service Centre, The Dementia Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County, Radical Connections, University of Ottawa Brain and Mind Institute

Project status: ongoing, 2023 - 2027

Project location: Ottawa, Ontario

Project team members:

  • Dr. Gilles Comeau, Project Lead
  • Nicole Stanson, Assistant Project Manager and Knowledge Mobilization Coordinator
  • Mikael Swirp, Project Manager

Project story


This project aims to implement and evaluate two community-based music interventions (musical movement and percussion ensemble playing) with the goal of enhancing the well-being and quality of life of people living with dementia and care partners. By using music as a powerful resource and intervention, this project brings together music educators, recreational therapists, social workers and health professionals.

The project specifically targets at-risk populations aged 55+ in the National Capital Region and rural communities in Northern Ontario, aiming to prevent and/or delay the onset and progression of dementia. The expected outcomes of this project include increased feelings of wellbeing, belonging, and self-confidence, integration of music-making into social prescription movement, improved mental health conditions, decreased public healthcare costs, and a better understanding of the effectiveness of different music activities in various contexts.

Key Takeaways:

  1. As the interest in using music for health grows rapidly, it becomes essential to rely on evidence-based knowledge to fully understand how music-making can positively impact people’s health and overall well-being.
  2. Too often, the evaluations of music for health schemes are small-scale, with poor methodologies and show little evidence of their effectiveness.
  3. It is important to understand what works, what doesn’t, for whom, in what circumstances, before music for health can have stability, can impact policy making, and can be embedded within health care.

This project is funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

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