Each Thursday, people living with Parkinson’s and their carers participate in a specialised online singing program based in Coffs Harbour.
Led by Music Therapist Bonnie Nilsson, the Online Parkinson’s Voice Program is funded by the Coffs Harbour Rotary Daybreak in a partnership between Parkinson’s NSW, the Younger Person’s Parkinson’s Support Group, University of Newcastle and the Mid North Coast Local Health District (MNCLHD) to improve the quality of life of participants.
Communication impairment is one of the most common symptoms of Parkinson’s and it significantly affects quality of life.
Singing shares many of the neural networks and structural mechanisms used during speech so it has potential for therapeutic application to address speech disorders.
Parkinson’s Clinical Nurse Consultant Vince Carroll said up to 90 per cent of people living with Parkinson’s experience speech and communication disorders yet few seek help.
“The local Parkinson’s Support Group program aims to improve health outcomes such as vocal intensity, speech intelligibility and respiratory output,” he said.
“With COVID-19, we had to look at other ways to deliver the program. By going online, we can achieve the same outcomes while enabling social connection, increasing conversation, and sharing emotional states – all of which facilitate empathy, cohesion, and bonding.”
The online sessions include 60 minutes of high-intensity, music-based vocal exercises, a sing-along with everyone’s favourite songs, the chance to sing solo, and time for social interaction and conversation practice.
For further information, contact Vince Carroll, Parkinson’s Clinical Nurse Consultant, Mid North Coast Local Health District on 6659 2300.