Giving people with dementia something to sing about

Abbeyfield are partnering with Playlist For Life to train members of their staff as music detectives, who will put together playlists of personally meaningful music for residents who are living with dementia.

Abbeyfield are training over 200 members of our care staff and volunteers to become music detectives. The music detectives will help residents piece together music, songs, hymns and theme tunes that have significant meaning to them. 

The project comes in light of growing research from around the world which reveals that personally meaningful music has the potential to ease dementia symptoms including anxiety, agitation and depression while help to recall memories and abilities thought lost and reduce the need for medication.

April Dobson, head of dementia and innovation at Abbeyfield said: “therapeutic benefits of music are already well documented, and there is growing evidence that personally meaningful music can amplify those effects. “We can all think of music that gives us ‘that flashback feeling’ and transports us back to another time, person or place in our lives. That music can become a lifeline if you develop dementia because it is deeply attached to your memories and emotions. It can soothe, calm and comfort and also make us feel alive. That’s exactly the experience we want to be able to provide for people living with us who have dementia.”

music therapy for those with dementia

The Making Music project uses tools and training developed by registered charity Playlist for Life, who are working to ensure everyone with dementia has access to a personal playlist to make life easier and happier for them and their carers.

The project is being supported by The People’s Postcode Trust, a grant-giving charity funded entirely by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Playlist for Life chief executive Sarah Metcalfe said: “Abbeyfield is the first care group to deliver playlists into every one of their homes in this strategic way. It is really exciting to be working with them as they lead the way on personal music for dementia."

playlist for life and abbeyfield

Anita Pascoe is an activities coordinator at Abbeyfield Stow Park in Newport, Wales which is set to become the first certified Playlist care home in the UK.

She said: “I believe people haven’t lost their memories – they just get locked away. The music training helps bring their memories to the fore, which can be very emotional. It makes you laugh – and it can make you cry. I was skeptical about the project at first, but I have seen the difference it can make. Many of the people living with us have very complex needs, but the music can help on so many levels. It helps relax them, helping at meal times and bathing – and it does unlock their memories, which is lovely for their families. To see couples who have been so devoted to each other being brought together by music which connects them brings a tear to your eye. It is lovely.”

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