Individuals with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other cognitive and physical challenges often struggle to reconnect and engage with others.  The Music and Memory Program uses personalized playlists to trigger deep memories and improve the ability to converse, socialize and stay present.  A recent grant from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will cover the program cost for South Dakota long-term care facilities interested in participating.

Great Plains Quality Innovation Network (QIN) Program Manager Lori Hintz commented on the potential for this innovative program, “Effectively implementing a nonpharmacological approach like the Music and Memory program provides benefits to the individuals receiving the care and those providing the care.  Reducing behavior issues without medication impacts the quality of care and the job satisfaction of the staff, both of which lead to lower healthcare costs.”

The National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes reports the national antipsychotic medication use rates which average about 15 percent. Until recently, South Dakota was in line with the national trends which have been steadily decreasing. This unexpected increase led the South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care (SDFMC), part of the Great Plains Quality Innovation Network (QIN), to join with the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations, South Dakota Department of Health and Office of Health Care Facilities Licensure and Certification and the South Dakota Health Care Association to submit the Music and Memory grant application.

The grant award will provide facilities with materials and training as well as the necessary equipment for distributing the customized playlists: iPods and other accessories.  During the first two years of the award, the goal is to implement the program in half of the nursing facilities in South Dakota.  After the initial phase, additional facilities may request to participate.

“The Music and Memory grant award will help reduce antipsychotic medication use rates, improve health and lower healthcare costs,” reflected Hintz. “The bonus value comes for those who witness a face light up as a song is recognized and the spark in each eye as a precious memory is recalled.”

The recruitment phase of the program will begin in April.