Grace Meadows – Programme Director of The Utley Foundation’s Music for Dementia 2020 campaign – (www.musicfordementia2020.com) and Senior Music therapist at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London.
A society that utilises the power of music can transform how we can support and care for people living with dementia. Music is an evidence-based tool for the health and care sectors which can help to personalise dementia care. It’s ability to bring joy, enliven, stimulate and bring people together can bring radical change to environments and relationships.
Our health and care sectors are facing extraordinary levels of demands and pressures as we find ourselves living longer but not necessarily aging well. The strain can cause our workforces to become exhausted and close to burnout, both mentally and physically, ultimately impacting on the quality of care offered. This is where music can have a fundamental role in transforming care.
The music and dementia sector has recently received a major boost with the long-awaited launch of www.musicfordementia2020.com. This dynamic hub demonstrates how music, in its rich and broad variety of forms, is essential for people living with dementia and their carers. It carries the vital role of showcasing how music can be fully embedded in the culture of care and campaigns for music to be integrated in all dementia care pathways.
It encourages people to collaborate and demonstrate transforming local and national dementia care through music.
The emergence of the website comes directly from the recommendations laid out in the International Longevity Centre’s report on Music and Dementia. There was a call to action to create a centralised and interactive hub of information that focuses on music and dementia.
The Utley Foundation is the charitable trust behind Music for Dementia 2020. It is creating a taskforce of stakeholders across music, dementia, health and social care sectors; from people living with dementia through to MPs. The aim is to fully utilise music to improve quality of life for people living with dementia.
The report suggests that research, evidence and musical expertise is disparate and fragmented across the UK. However, music-making does happen in people’s homes, communities, concert halls, care settings, hospitals and hospices. And yet, there are many places where there is currently little or no activity. The patchiness of provision may be due to a variety of factors but it’s the campaign’s aim to change this to ensure parity of offers across the UK.
The Utley Foundation is supporting the excellent work that is already happening to create wider access for people with dementia. This includes initiatives such as Live Music Now, Playlist for Life, Music in Mind and Together in Sound. Organisations such as these are working to create sustainable models for change.
We want people living with dementia and those caring for them to access a range of musical activities, from playlists and performances, to interactive, participatory music-making and music therapy. Many are already available but practitioners and services need support to grow across UK regardless of postcode.
In line with the NHS’ personalised care agenda people living with dementia and their carers should be able to make choices about what types of musical activities they want to participate in.
The Music for Dementia 2020 team are encouraging organisations to share the messaging – helping to increase awareness and understanding that for people living with dementia, music is a necessity, not a nicety and increase delivery of their musical offers.
We must continue to increase awareness and understanding of the role that music has in enhancing and enriching care. To support care providers to embed music into their services and care pathways. To encourage provision and choice and ensure we are providing the best possible person-centred care for people living with dementia.