Playlist for Life has today launched a package of UK-wide training programmes to help care professionals harness the power of music when caring for people living with dementia.
The Music for Dementia charity teaches families and care staff how to create a unique playlist of the soundtrack to a person’s life.
It says personal playlists allow others to understand and ‘see’ the whole person with dementia; to stop the feeling of helplessness and bring joy and connection.
The new training programmes are designed to help care workers learn about the benefits of using personalised music to support those living with the condition, how to make playlists and effectively integrate them into personalised care programmes.
There are two types of packages – an ‘integrating into care’ package that trains staff to use the playlists, and an ‘embedding into your setting’ package that allows teams and organisations to train staff members to roll out playlists at scale.
Personalised playlists form part of a wider movement in healthcare recognising the benefits of social prescribing. In November 2018, Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I must pay tribute to the pioneering work of the charity Playlist for Life. Their work creating personal playlists for people with dementia led to a 60% reduction in the need for psychotropic medication at one care home. This is the kind of cheap, easy-to-use social prescription that I’m fully behind.”
Playlist for Life was founded in 2013 by writer and broadcaster Sally Magnusson, to ensure that everyone with dementia has a playlist of ‘the soundtrack of their life’, and that everyone who loves and cares for them knows how to use it.
Last year, the charity was awarded £1.6 million in National Lottery funding.
Sarah Metcalfe, chief executive of Playlist for Life, said: “We’re really passionate about integrating playlists into dementia care by adopting a ‘whole-home approach’. This means that everyone in an organisation caring for people with dementia has a role to play in implementing playlists: from senior management and carers to the receptionist and kitchen staff.
“If someone living with dementia is continually sending back their food, a member of catering staff could recognise this and suggest scheduling of therapeutic playlist activity before mealtimes. We’ve learnt from experience that the more people who are involved in the project, the more music will become a standard part of the daily life for the people we’re caring for, and the greater impact it will have.”