Kildemosen Care Home Invites Island Community of Samsø to Make Music Together

Anyone doubting the potential of intergenerational and community play needs to look no further than the Danish island of Samsø. The 4,000-inhabitant island nestled in the Kattegat Sea is home to the Kildemosen, the only senior living facility on the island and home to thirty-six residents. In collaboration with Samsø Municipality, the facility has established a sensory garden equipped with outdoor musical instruments to create engaging activities that bring people together across generations. This initiative was made possible with support from the Social Agency's fund for dementia-friendly measures, contributing to Samsø Municipality's goal of becoming a dementia-friendly island.

Engaging Residents

The musical sensory garden at the care home has become an important gathering place for residents and the local community. It provides a colorful and inviting environment for socializing, rehabilitation, and training and helps to address feelings of loneliness. The musical instruments in the garden have been carefully chosen by staff at Kildemosen, including occupational therapists, educators, and music therapists, working together with Samsø Municipality and Percussion Play Denmark.

The musical instruments are strategically placed along the sensory path that connects two of the nursing home's buildings. You can find Harmony Bells and a large Akadinda along this wheelchair-accessible path. Close to the public path, you can also see medium-sized Congas, a Rainbow Cavatina, a Music Book , and Tubular Bells, along with a set of MyTunes chimes, which plays the popular Danish song "I Know a Lark's Nest." Additionally, an Akadinda, Sunflower Petal Drum and another Harmony are located between the two houses in Kildemosen's screened section.

The sensory garden at the care center serves as a multifaceted resource, offering residents a personalized and engaging experience. This unique space allows residents to explore on their own or with the support of staff. Tailoring activities to align with each person's specific needs and schedules ensures a highly individualized approach to engagement. Within this serene environment, residents have the freedom to engage with a variety of instruments at their leisure. This could involve experimenting with different instruments to discover new sounds, feeling the tactile sensations of vibrations generated by the instruments, or selecting and playing soothing melodies on the xylophone. The overarching goal is to create a relaxing, stimulating, and safe space where residents can connect with music and nature at a pace that suits them, enhancing their overall well-being.

Inviting the Wider Community to Play

The musical instruments in the garden are not exclusively for the residents' use; the wider community is encouraged to join in and make music as well. Maria Weisbjerg, who manages Plejecenter Kildemosen, has observed this initiative's positive impact firsthand. "The musical instruments bring joy and life to both the residents and the island's population. It is fantastic to hear music around the care home, attracting children, the elderly, and tourists." This approach has not only enriched the lives of the care home's residents but has also fostered a sense of community and belonging among the island's population, making the care home a focal point for social gatherings.

Susanne Sejr Eggen, Area Manager of the Social Support Team and Housing and Activity Centre, Samsø Municipality, states:

Residents with developmental disabilities or late-onset brain damage live in Bofællesskabet på Samsø. Currently, these residents primarily have mental and social impairments, supplemented with psychiatric disorders. Some residents have unskilled jobs and can move around Samsø independently, while others require close one-to-one support. The Sensory Garden and its instruments are consciously included in various outdoor activities.

The sensory garden offers activities like playing music at varying tempos to influence mood and engaging with the environment through tactile interactions, such as feeling instrument vibrations or walking and resting. Key features include interactive instruments like a xylophone, which can create calming rhythms, water elements, swings, and various textures to explore. The garden provides a serene gathering place for the community, close to the Housing Association for easy access, and enriches residents' lives by integrating with the city's other outdoor activities. This unique space enhances the community living experience by blending education, social interaction, and sensory exploration.

A Platform for Community and Health

The sensory garden serves as both a source of joy and musical experiences and a space that promotes health. The music is designed to evoke the memories of citizens with dementia, encourage physical activity, and foster a desire to spend time in nature. The instruments in the garden bring together residents of all ages on the island and provide a free and accessible activity that enhances the social community on Samsø. The sensory garden exemplifies how music and nature can unite people and improve everyday life for everyone.

"The instruments should benefit all of us on the island. Research shows its importance for our brains and what it means for our mental well-being when we play music. You can see how it has an enormous effect on citizens with dementia, that the music can touch something. It can make us want to move more, get out into nature, and engage in more activities so that we want to live more. It provides sound in beautiful surroundings. All in all, it's a fantastic platform we have at Samsø for our health plan," says Anita Olesen, chairman of the Social, Health and Employment Committee and board member of the Children and Culture Committee, Samsø Municipality.