Music for Life
Music for Life (Wigmore Hall and Dementia UK) is a project pioneering and developing interactive music workshops for people living
Work takes place in residential homes and special day care centres. The project aims to enhance the quality of life of its participants and demonstrate to carers the emotional, social and physical potential of people in their care. It focuses on people who can be isolated and disempowered as a result of the advanced stage of their dementia.
‘It’s lovely to listen, I can’t help but listen’ Participant
During projects, specially trained musicians work alongside small groups of people with dementia and their carers; drawing out individuals and enhancing communication. These musical and personal interactions identify and build upon areas still intact within a person suffering the losses associated with the later stages of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia: memory, physical capacities, personality changes and accompanying loss of identity.
Participants' personalities come through in the work and carers, who are also part of the team,
can then re-evaluate their care of individuals in the light of their experience during the project.
‘I enjoyed seeing residents really involved in the sessions, seeing changes in them
as the project progressed, and recognising their strengths’ Care staff member
Music for Life offers three interlinked strands of work:
- Music improvisation workshops for people living with dementia
- Working with staff to enhance their understanding of the emotional needs of people with dementia as part of a person-centred approach to dementia care
- Training and developing professional musicians to work in this field
Music for Life was founded by Linda Rose in 1993 and developed together with an expanding team of musicians in association with Jewish Care. Music for Life is now managed by Wigmore Hall in partnership with Dementia UK.
A Short Case Study:
Emma* was very depressed at the beginning of the project. She would spend days on end in her room, staying in her nightclothes all day and preferring not to join other residents in her unit for meals. As the project progressed, however, she began to engage more with the music. Arriving early, she was seen in animated conversation with the musicians. Gradually she took a more active role in playing instruments and showed recognition and pleasure when the musicians played a piece for her. Flashes of her old, fun-loving nature came out.
The staff saw lots of changes in Emma after the project. She no longer stayed in her room in her nightclothes, but was happy to come into the lounge of the unit and join in with singing and dancing. She was much more sociable and was willing to accept help with personal care from staff when they went to get her up in the mornings. She is now showing far fewer signs of being depressed and staff are delighted to see her smiling.
*names have been changed
Please find below our most recent annual report.
If you would like to find out about getting involved with Music for Life, please contact the project manager, Kate Whitaker, on 020 7258 8240 or email the Learning Department.
For information about Dementia UK, visit www.dementiauk.org