New funding has been announced to launch new musical therapy projects in UK care homes to harness the power of music in treating symptoms of dementia
Dementia, a general term for degenerative diseases that inhibit cognitive function, affects an estimated 850,000 people in the UK. As we age, our risk of developing dementia increases – an estimated 1 in 14 over-65s and 1 in 6 over-80s across the country are currently living with the condition.
Dementia also has no known cure. As such, treatment for the disease focuses on trying to reduce symptoms and helping those affected to live a full life.
Social prescribing plays a big part in achieving this goal, helping to put people with dementia in contact with activities that can stimulate their mind, such as art classes, cookery courses, or even gardening.
Music therapy is one such treatment that has been shown to produce remarkable results for people with dementia. Since its founding in 2014, leading UK-based charity Music for Dementia has been championing the use of music therapy for improving dementia care, from increasing cognitive abilities to improving cost-effectiveness.
In 2016, a study by the charity found that choir-based music therapy resulted in a 54% reduction in mean depressive symptom scores, and a 57% improvement in mean quality of life scores, among participants.
Now, the charity is teaming with the National Academy for Social Prescribing (NASP) to help fund 4 new music therapy projects for UK-based dementia care homes.
With £100,000 investment from the NASP, as well as £12,000 from public donations, the collaboration will help fund work by Musica Music and Wellbeing – a company that delivers music workshops for people with dementia and training for carers – The Derbyshire Stroke and Neuro Therapy Centre, Lowestoft’s The Seagull Theatre, and Saffron Hall Trust.
“It is wonderful to be able to work closely with NASP on this project and to be offering a second round of grants this year to musical activities working with people with dementia," says Grace Meadows, Music for Dementia campaign director. "We hope this partnership paves the way for further ventures in the future, enabling more people with dementia to access music and enjoy its many benefits through social prescribing.”
Find out more about Music for Dementia's work here.
Written by Marco Ricci
Editor and contributor for Talking Mental Health