Making music a part of dementia care now and in the long term

Featured article - 10 September 2020
By Grace Meadows, Programme Director, Music for Dementia

Grace Meadows, Programme Director, Music for Dementia

Covid-19 has shown us the importance of using music as a means to connect, particularly for those living with dementia. It’s helped to maintain and sustain relationships through lockdown and bridged social distancing.

We have seen music being used innovatively, spontaneously, and creatively across care settings. Carers haven’t felt the need to ask permission to make music a part of care – they’ve instinctively turned to it to help alleviate heightened anxiety, distress and agitation, to provide distraction, stimulate, lift spirits and keep people connected.

These carers have shown us that they don’t need to be musically trained to make music a part of care. Rather, they are being musically minded and tuning into what they know people love – their favourite music - and how they like to engage with it. They’ve known when to use a personalised playlist, when to sit and sing with someone, when to log on for online choirs, and when to use music to help them stay connected to family.

It’s this confidence and creativity of care staff and providers that we want to encourage to help make music an integral part of dementia care, beyond Covid-19.

Making it happen

Not knowing where to start with music can be the biggest challenge. This is why we have created a range of resources on our website, everything from setting out the science to guides on what you can do with music, along with inspiring stories of how people have been keeping the music going during lockdown.

Musical Care Taskforce

The Musical Care Taskforce is a group for those who are committed to making music a part of dementia care. Made up of individuals and representatives from organisations across health, care, music and dementia, the group advises on best practice on using music in dementia care and how this can be embedded into dementia care policy and practice.

If you would like to sign up to the Taskforce and join us for our next (online) meeting on 20 October 2020, please register by emailing me at grace@musicfordementia.org.uk

Making music a part of care for the long term

Clearly music has significant benefits, not just for people living with dementia but also carers and the environments in which people live and work. We need to build on the activity, confidence and creativity demonstrated during lockdown to help make music a part of everyday care for everyone living with dementia as we move into the future. Yes, we need training routes to support people in developing their skills in using music. In addition to that, we first need to help people and the care systems to recognise, understand and value the role of music in care. Music isn’t an add-on. It enhances and enriches quality of life and we all have a role to play in making that happen.

Find out more about the campaign and how you can make music a part of care at the Music for Dementia website.

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