College of Health and Human Services
George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Department of Social Work Receives Grant to Expand Music Treatment Program for Dementia Across Virginia

December 5, 2018

By Jiaxi Zhang

In collaboration with partners from the local, state, and national levels, three Department of Social Work professors will introduce nursing facilities across Virginia to the MUSIC & MEMORY® program and provide training for caregivers. As they help implement the program, they will also evaluate its effectiveness and work to further expand and sustain the initiative.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is providing a three-year $567,100 grant to fund the expansion, which will allow Drs. Megumi Inoue, Emily Ihara, and Cathy Tompkins to bring the MUSIC & MEMORY® program to nursing facilities from each of the six Division of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) areas in Virginia.

The Mason Music and Memory Initiative (M3I) aims to provide Virginia nursing facilities with a personalized music intervention that is based on scientific evidence and does not involve medications. The current project is based on prior work with 51 individuals at community-based adult day health centers and 11 residents at two nursing facilities.

“Many medications have been prescribed for people with dementia in nursing facilities to treat their distressing behavioral and psychological symptoms, and they are not without serious side effects,” Tompkins explained.

“This project’s potential benefits include the reduction of medication use for some hard-to-manage behaviors and the improvement of residents’ emotional and behavioral well-being. This could also contribute to staff members’ job satisfaction, which could reduce staff turnover rates. Therefore, M3I has the potential to save Medicaid costs over time,” Inoue said.

This project will be carried out in nursing facilities across Virginia, covering Southwest, Roanoke/Alleghany, Western/Charlotte, Northern/Winchester, Central and Tidewater regions. Online training will be provided to direct care staff to inform them about the positive effects of the intervention and how to use it with residents. Support will also be provided for facilities to be certified as MUSIC & MEMORY® facilities.

“Over the course of three years, we will assist in the statewide implementation of the intervention in more than 100 Medicare/Medicaid-certified nursing facilities in Virginia, and build a platform upon which the program coverage will grow to reach as many individuals as possible,” Ihara noted.

Upon completion of the project, there will be an evaluation report posted online for others to benefit from, including a broader range of nursing facilities and long-term care organizations, as well as state and local partners, direct care workers, and policy makers.