The Music Pharmacy

Music and wellbeing work in sync.

Music is known to alleviate stress, reduce agitation, evoke emotion and boost self-esteem.

It can have a positive effect on people of all ages and circumstances – especially those with cognitive impairment such as dementia.

That's why we created the Music Pharmacy – a unique program that uses evidence-based practice to link neuroscience, music therapy and psychology with music and social wellbeing.

Waltz into life

When we piloted the Music Pharmacy, 100% of staff, clients and their families said they would recommend it to others. So, we decided to make music a core part of our care.

Our team are trained to use the nuances of music to connect, engage and motivate. Whether it's to encourage movement, improve socialisation or simply for a bit of atmosphere, a healthy dose of music is embedded into our everyday culture.

The Music Pharmacy gives our residential aged care, transition care and Brightwater At Home clients the chance to get involved in beneficial music programs, specifically tailored to their needs and preferences. 

Through research and industry collaborations, we stay up-to-date with the latest findings to inform our creative approach.

Our clients enjoy a range of programs through the Music Pharmacy, including:

Group Music Therapy

A research-based practice where a university trained and registered music therapist intentionally uses music to support health and functioning – regardless of age, ability, musical skill or culture.

It incorporates song writing, drumming, improvisation and more to achieve individual goals such as cognition, communication, behaviour, motor skill, mobility and mental wellbeing.

This program is available in residential aged care and Brightwater At Home 

Jam Sessions

Making music in a social environment can be a fun and engaging activity, helping those living in the community to stay socially connected.

Guided by a professional musician, this music engagement group includes a fun assortment of instruments that everyone can have a go at. 

This program is available in residential aged care and Brightwater At Home

Serene Strings

This innovative program aims to empower people living in care, using the Reverie Harp as a tool for self-care and connection.

Never has there been a more therapeutic instrument than the Reverie Harp - it's lightweight and ergonomically designed so that anyone can play it, including those who are frail. There's no training necessary – simply stroke the strings and enjoy the comforting, calming vibrations.

This program is available in residential aged care

Personalised Playlists

Research indicates that musical memories remain preserved even into the later stages of dementia. Personalised music can connect someone to their self-identity and those close to them.

This program includes an easy-to-use music player fully loaded with thoughtfully selected songs, unique to each person. To support healthy uses of music, playlists are created sensitively, responses are monitored and Brightwater staff receive training to offer suitable music at the right times.

This program is available in residential aged care and Brightwater At Home

Move & Groove

This music-based intervention promotes movement and social connection to build confidence and self-esteem – all while having fun.

A regular silent disco offers 3 music channels so our groovers can select the music they enjoy. 

This program is available in transition care

Meet our Music Therapist, Marie

Marie says the best part of her job is being in a creative space and witnessing the value music holds in empowering ability, affirming identity and providing opportunities for self-expression.

Read more

Frequently asked questions

View All FAQ’s
  • How much do Music Pharmacy services cost?

    If you or your loved one is a home care client, Music Pharmacy services can be paid using funds from a Home Care Package. Alternatively, you can also pay for programs like Jam Sessions or Personalised Playlists privately.

    For residential aged care and transition care clients, there are no additional costs.

  • I have NDIS funding, can I use this for any of the Music Pharmacy programs?

    Music therapy conducted by a Registered Music Therapist is a therapeutic support under Capacity Building covered by NDIS.

    As stated by the NDIS, music therapy "assists participants to apply their functional skills to improve participation and independence in daily, practical activities in areas such as language and communication, personal care, mobility and movement, interpersonal interactions and community living".

  • How can I or a loved one participate in the Music Pharmacy?

    If you or your loved one is a Brightwater At Home client living in the community, please contact your Coordinator to discuss options available in your area.

    If you or your loved one lives in a Brightwater aged care home or is staying in transition care, please reach out to staff to ask what is available.

  • Do I need music skills or experience to participate in the Music Pharmacy group activities?

    Not at all!

    The good news is you don’t need any musical experience or skills to participate in and enjoy these activities. You can choose the level of involvement that feels comfortable for you and we have a selection of instruments to suit everyone. Our focus is on the experience rather than the quality of musical performance.

  • Do you cater for different musical cultures?


    Brightwater supports the cultural diversity of our clients and acknowledges that music can provide important connection to one’s cultural identity. To date, our programs have included music from Greece, Italy, Germany, Scotland, England, Poland, Switzerland, New Zealand, Ireland, Malta and many more to support our diverse group of participants. Of course, we also cover Australian and Indigenous Australian songs.

  • Can family members join in with the Music Pharmacy activities?

    Yes, we encourage family members to join in with any Music Pharmacy activities at our aged care or transition care homes.

    For those living in the community, Brightwater At Home family members can come along to groups at no additional cost.

  • How can I volunteer with the Music Pharmacy?

    Volunteering can be a great way to give back to your community. There are plenty of music-related volunteering opportunities, including one-on-one visits, group interaction or entertainment.

    Learn more about volunteering or click here to become a Brightwater volunteer.

  • What are music-based interventions?

    The term music-based interventions covers a range of activities and approaches covered by this program. They include:

    • Music therapy: Delivered either one-on-one or in group settings by a Music Therapist who is certified and registered with the national body. It is an evidence-based practice that works on non-musical health and wellbeing use through the intentional use of music interventions.
    • Music engagement: Can include active participation in music making such as singing, playing or learning instruments, facilitated by a musician generally in a group setting. May also include listening to personalised recorded music with another person with the purpose of stimulating reminiscence or discussion about the music.
    • Music appreciation/ entertainment: Includes listening to live or recorded music for leisure or entertainment purposes.
    • Environmental music: Background music such as radios or televisions. Although not an intervention, it is considered in the Music Pharmacy approach to ensure we provide safe and comfortable auditory environments for our clients.

  • How do I find out more about music therapy?

    For more information about music therapy please refer to the Australian Music Therapy Association website. 

  • How can I donate to or sponsor the Music Pharmacy?

    Big hearts made the Music Pharmacy happen.

    The program was born from the generosity of donors, included donors from the 2017 Perth's Longest Lunch. 

    Click here to make an online donation or contact [email protected] to learn more about corporate sponsorship.

  • What research supports the Music Pharmacy program?

    There is a growing body of research suggesting that music-based interventions can be beneficial in community and supported living healthcare settings including Cochrane reviews on music therapy and dementia (1) and evidence to suggest music promotes healthy ageing (2). Research has found our memory for music and the associated autobiographical memories and emotions are relatively preserved, even into the late stages of dementia (3-4).

    The Utley Foundation funded the UK Commission of Dementia and Music (4) to explore and document the advancing and positive impacts of music for people living with dementia. This unique, ambitious and comprehensive piece of research offers industry and policy insight into the value of music in this context, with clear recommendations on how to advance the benefits of music and informs our approaches. As a result, in July 2019 the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in the UK updated their dementia care recommendations to include music therapy.

    When creating personalised playlists we are sensitive to selecting music appropriate for the person, for the moment, to provide emotional support and for their state of mental wellbeing (5-10).

    Furthermore, there is evolving research indicating music therapy skill sharing with family members and paid carers can support the quality of life and relationship for those giving and receiving care (11-15). This guides our Waltz Into Life approach to embedding music into our everyday care culture.

    Research references

    1. Van der Steen, J. T., Smaling, H. J. A., van der Wouden, J. C., Bruinsma, M. S., Scholten, R. J. P. M., & Vink, A. C. (2018). Music-based therapeutic interventions for people with dementia. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.
    2. Rogenmoser, L., Kernbach, J., Schlaug, G., & Gaser, C. (2018). Keeping brains young with making music. Brain Structure and Function, 223(1), 297–305.
    3. Baird A, Samson S. Memory for music in Alzheimer’s disease: unforgettable? Neuropsychol Rev. (2009) 19:85–101. doi: 10.1007/s11065-009-9085-2
    4. Jacobsen JH, Stelzer J, Fritz TH, Chételat G, La Joie R, Turner R. Why musical memory can be preserved in advanced Alzheimer’s disease. Brain (2015) 138:2438–50. doi: 10.1093/brain/awv135
    5. Garrido, S., Stevens, C. J., Chang, E., Dunne, L., & Perz, J. (2018). Music and dementia: Individual differences in response to personalized playlists. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 64(3), 933–941.
    6. Garrido, S., Dunne, L., Chang, E., Perz, J., Stevens, C. J., & Haertsch, M. (2017). The Use of Music Playlists for People with Dementia: A Critical Synthesis. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
    7. Gerdner, L. A. (2012). Individualized music for dementia: Evolution and application of evidence-based protocol. World Journal of Psychiatry.
    8. Juslin, P., Liljestrom, S., Vastfjall, D., & Lundqvist, L.-O. (2010). How Does Music Evoke Emotions? In P. Juslin (Ed.), Handbook of Music and Emotion: Theory, Resrearch, Applications (1st ed., pp. 603–610). Oxford University Press.
    9. Annie Heiderscheit, Amy Madson, Use of the Iso Principle as a Central Method in Mood Management: A Music Psychotherapy Clinical Case Study, Music Therapy Perspectives, Volume 33, Issue 1, 2015, Pages 45–52,
    10. Cuddy, L. L., Sikka, R., Silveira, K., Bai, S., & Vanstone, A. (2017). Music-evoked autobiographical memories (MEAMs) in alzheimer disease: Evidence for a positivity effect. Cogent Psychology, 4(1), 1–20.
    11. Bowell, S, and Bamford, S. (2018) What would life be without a song or a sance, what are we? A Report from the Commission on Dementia and Music. The International Longevity Centre: London. Retrieved from
    12. Brown S, Götell E, Ekman S. Singing as a therapeutic intervention in dementia care. J Dementia Care (2001) 9:33–7.
    13. Götell E, Thunborg C, Söderlund A, Wågert PH. Can caregiver singing improve person transfer situations in dementia care? Music Med. (2012) 4:237–44.
    14. McDermott O, Mette Ridder H, Baker F, Wosch T, Ray K, Stige B. Indirect Music Therapy Practice and Skill Sharing in Dementia Care. Journal of Music Therapy. (2018) 55:255-279.
    15. Tamplin, J., Clark, I. N., Lee, Y. E. C., & Baker, F. A. (2018). Remini-sing: A feasibility study of therapeutic group singing to support relationship quality and wellbeing for community-dwelling people living with dementia and their family caregivers. Frontiers in Medicine, 5(AUG), 1–10.