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Naomi Thompson

Vice Chancellor's PhD Student

Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research

Faculty of Arts, Humanities, Education and Social Sciences
Cambridge School of Creative Industries

Indicative thesis title: MELODIC: co-developing a Music therapy intervention Embedded in the Life Of Dementia Inpatient psychiatric Care to reduce agitation and related physical assaults.

[email protected]


Supervisory team: Prof Helen Odell-Miller (1st), Dr Ming Hung Hsu (2nd), Dr Ben Underwood (3rd)

Naomi is currently at the beginning of her PhD research, exploring how CIMTR can develop a model of music therapy for NHS inpatient psychiatric dementia wards.

NHS inpatient psychiatric dementia wards care for the most unwell people living with dementia in our society, who are often experiencing high levels of agitation. Current treatment availability is limited, with medication commonly used to manage agitation.

Research conducted in care homes has found that music therapy can lead to short term reductions in agitation and training can equip staff with strategies to prevent symptoms. However, there is a lack of research conducted in NHS inpatient settings.

Crucially, research from the CIMTR found fewer incidents of physical assaults reported on the days when music therapy took place on these wards, with staff reporting the positive impact of sessions. However, when they conducted an audit, they found that access to music therapy varies between NHS Trusts.

In this project, Naomi will work with CIMTR to co-design a music therapy manual, MELODIC (Music therapy Embedded in the Life Of Dementia Inpatient Care), with patients, their families, healthcare staff and NHS managers, to reduce symptoms of agitation for people living with dementia on psychiatric inpatient wards. They will then pilot the manual on NHS wards to test the usefulness and helpfulness of the model.

Prior to this research, Naomi worked part time with CIMTR as a Research Assistant developing research in this area in collaboration with the Cambridge and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust.

Alongside conducting research, Naomi is a HCPC registered music therapist currently working in Cambridge with people who are homeless and have a problem with substance addiction.

Her clinical experience also includes work with children with special needs and autistic spectrum disorder and their families; children and young people in acute hospital wards; adults with acquired brain injuries; and older people with dementia.

Research interests
  • Music therapy in inpatient psychiatric dementia care
  • Music therapy and addiction
  • Music therapy in neurorehabilitation
  • MA in Music Therapy, Anglia Ruskin University
  • BA in Music, University of York
Selected recent publications

Thompson, N., Iyemere, K., Underwood, B.R., Odell-Miller, H. (under review) 'Investigating the impact of music therapy on two inpatient psychiatric wards for people with dementia: a retrospective, observational study'.

Thompson, N., Odell-Miller, H. (2022) 'An audit of music therapy in acute National Health Service (NHS) settings for people with dementia in the UK and adaptations made due to COVID-19', Approaches: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Music Therapy.

Thompson, N., Bloska, J., Abington, A., Masterson, A., Whitten, D., Street, A. (2022) 'The Feasibility and Acceptability of Neurologic Music Therapy in Subacute Neurorehabilitation and Effects on Patient Mood', Brain Sciences, 12(4), pp. 497.

Chadder, N. (2019) 'An exploration into the perception of music interventions in hospitals amongst healthcare professionals', Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 19(1).