The Foundation is a registered Canadian charity dedicated to creating resources for caregivers to integrate music
into their care setting. Pathways is the Foundation’s non-pharmacological response to the issues faced by
people with dementia and their caregivers. It is a research-informed, ready-to-use tool for professional,
volunteer and family caregivers to engage people with dementia through song.
The program has been years in development. A pilot study took place in 2011 in 15 long-term care facilities;
three focus groups of more than 30 dementia care experts, family caregivers, community stakeholders and
people living with dementia were conducted in Durham Region, Toronto and Waterloo; and a beta test was
conducted in 30 sites (long-term care, retirement homes, private family homes, and in-patient mental health
facilities) in the spring and summer of 2015.
Early results show participants experienced increased participation and socialization, and decreased negative
behaviours. Of beta testers, 100 per cent of respondents reporting participants singing, and 95 per cent of
respondents reporting feet tapping and humming.
Because of the isolating nature of dementia, socialization among people with dementia can be difficult. In the
beta test, 97 per cent of respondents said participants experienced increased participation, and 95 per cent
reported participants experienced increased pleasure. Another significant result of the beta test was the
reduced agitation reported by 82 per cent of respondents, and reduced wandering reported by 73 per cent of
Beta tester Vicki Colicchia, a staff member at Hyland Crest long-term care home in Haliburton, ON, says, “They
want to do Pathways again and again, and that is welcome news for an activity aide.”
Jennifer Rusaw, day programs manager with Community Care Durham, says, “Anybody can do it. If music isn’t
your forte, Pathways makes you feel comfortable.”
Pathways is comprised of 13 30-minutes video episodes featuring singing host Briar Boake. Each episode
contains five songs sung two or three times each, a little faster each time. Between the songs, Briar helps
participants and their care partners reminisce through the song.
For caregivers, the accompanying activity booklet provides five suggested activities per song, extending the
usefulness of the program. Beta testers used the bonus audio CDs for exercise, meal times, in home’ lobbies,
and to soothe participants.
Additionally, Room 217 has created online tutorials on topics like understanding dementia, why singing works in
memory care, how to use Pathways, and strengthening relationships with Pathways.
Pre-orders are now being taken for the Pathways Singing Program, which is being sold for $599 for the entire set
of three collections (Journeys, Inspirations and Seasons). There are discounts for volume sales.
To view an eight-minute video which includes information on why singing works in memory care, and footage
from some of the beta test sites, visit https://youtu.be/Tj-LviyPFwY.
For more information visit www.room217.ca/pathways or call 905-852-2499