Playlist for Life has launched a free online training platform to help educate the next generation of health and social care professionals on the power of music in improving the lives of people living with dementia.
The charity has trained over 6,000 health and social care professionals since 2015 and is now delivering online training due to the pandemic.
The first course to launch on the new platform is a free ‘Playlist for Students’ course open to all UK higher education institutions after a successful trial with over 600 students at Glasgow Caledonian University.
Playlist for Life’s online training is based on more than two decades of research showing that ‘personal music’ – the specific tunes attached to someone’s emotions that spark memories – can help those living with dementia by alleviating stress, managing symptoms and strengthening relationships with family members and carers.
In September 2019, the World Health Organisation undertook a major study investigating the evidence for the health benefits of the arts. A section on dementia found evidence of multiple specific benefits including: reducing anxiety and depression; supporting cognition, speech and memory; reducing the need for antipsychotic drugs, and fewer and shorter stays in hospital.
Professor Craig Ritchie, chair of the Psychiatry of Ageing at the University of Edinburgh and Director of Brain Health Scotland features as an interviewee in the training package for students.
He said: “Music stimulates many parts of the brain at once, meaning that even if parts of the brain have been damaged by dementia, music can still reach other parts. Playlist for Life uses music that is meaningful to a person living with dementia to improve their life, and the lives of their loved ones and carers. Everyone training for a career in health and social care should take the opportunity to learn more about the power of personal playlists.”
The free student training is open to all UK-based higher education institutions delivering courses in nursing, medicine, social care, music therapy and other related disciplines that seek to improve the lives of people affected by dementia. Health and social care professionals can also register their interest in training coming soon to the platform.
Andy Lowndes, a former mental health nurse and nursing academic, is co-founder and deputy chair of the charity, and leads the online training for students.
He commented: “We are delighted with the response to our training for students and are excited to offer it to all UK universities for free during this time of the Covid-19. The pandemic has further cemented the incredibly important role of our health and social care workers, as well as the role of the universities working tirelessly to keep learning going for the next generation of health and social care heroes.
“Those living with dementia have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, so we want to do everything we can to help make a difference through the power of music.”
The online training package will explain the benefits of personalised playlists for people living with dementia and teach students to implement this approach to person-centred care in their own work and future careers.
The course takes about two hours to complete and gives students an introduction to the power of music and how to use playlists effectively through seven short modules. Through videos, animation and case studies, students are introduced to dementia and its symptoms, the evidence for music, the ‘Music Detective’ skills needed to build playlists, and advice for introducing playlists in practice.