Each year, I love the lead up to Christmas and the chance to share the magic of the festive season with the many residents and staff in those care homes where I’m working.
This year will be no different, with a busy timetable leading right up to 23rd December. I’m especially looking forward to spending considerable time with a special group of residents and staff who live close to my home. We’ve got lots of fun activities planned as well as leaving plenty of time to sing carols and do some bell ringing.
To all those in the care homes I’ve visited this year, I look forward to seeing you again in 2023 and wish you a very Happy Christmas.
There is no doubt that Judy Garland is one of my all time favourite female singers and over the years it has been my privilege to sing many of the songs she made famous. Today I’m delighted to share my own recording of her iconic song “Over the Rainbow” from the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz.”
Judy was only 16 years old when she was cast as the young Dorothy Gale
I was enthralled to watch Vicky McClure’s “Dementia Choir” recently on BBC 1 which served to reinforce the benefits I am seeing on a regular basis during my Motivational Music sessions across many Yorkshire care homes. People living with dementia will often feel agitated and restless, but singing helps them feel calmer and more animated. By the end of a session their mood has lifted and often they will engage in some form of interaction and communication with others in their group. It is wonderful to see how the whole energy of the room has lifted.
The right song can instantly transport someone back in time and elicit strong emotions even if they haven’t heard it for years. It is such a privilege to witness a person who cannot speak singing along to a song which has been tucked away deep inside their brain.
I’m also delighted to learn that a national campaign called Music for Dementia 2020 hopes to make some form of music available for everyone with dementia by the year 2020.
This book is a definite must for all those caring for someone living with dementia. It is available from many publishers including Bloomsbury
Wendy Mitchell’s ground breaking book documents her personal experience of living with the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Diagnosed at 58 with its’ early onset, Wendy’s honest account and her many radio and TV appearances are helping to build a better understanding of the illness.
Wendy says in her article “My Opinion On The Social Care Chaos” which appears on her personal blog Which Me Am I Today:-
“For so long, in this country, we havn’t talked about the complexity of the individual living with dementia. The ‘need’ for support and services has been ignored and thought of as the realm of charities and this is one of the main reasons for the chaotic state of social care at present.
For so long people with dementia have been shoe horned into the general services which others believe is our need instead of individually assessing need. Now we’re beginning to rise in numbers and TALK in public, there’s a realisation of the individuality of ‘need’ – we don’t all ‘fit’ into current services provided.
It’s almost as if it’s too late for all those of us currently living with dementia, both in the early mid and late stages and all stages in between. It feels like we’re the guinea pigs being used to try to sort out this mess so future generations can benefit.
If everyone currently living with dementia, in whatever stage, has to be guinea pigs for change to happen, then so be it, but change there has to be. No more silence, no more voices of the few, no more talk and good intentions – there has to be actions.
In the next 5 years huge social care change must take place so that in 10 years time, we’re proud of what the country has in place. People living with cancer aren’t shoe horned into inappropriate treatment, those recovering from a stroke aren’t shoe horned into inappropriate treatment….so why are people with dementia? Dementia lags behind in medical innovation so the need for social transformation is greater.
We don’t have innovative medical procedures to follow or a plethora of choice on medication because research has been sadly underfunded so the need for social transformation is greater. In my mind this should naturally lead clinicians to use social prescribing instead of automatically looking at the medical model and then discharging us.
No more silence and ‘making do’. We need to be realistic though and also examine various ways to fund this enormous need – what should and shouldn’t be funded – as we all know there is no infinite money in the pot.
Yes it is a daunting job to transform social care, but then surely it was a daunting job to create the NHS in the first place, but it happened.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if social care was a job of choice, with recognition, status, and a value placed on the skills of the staff?
Wouldn’t it be nice if individuals were treated as simply that, individuals with individual needs?
Wouldn’t it be nice if policy makers actually listened to the people that mattered and had most knowledge?
Which beggars the question, ‘Who is responsible and who should be involved in this massive transformation’? Well, only people who truly understand the problem and a large proportion of whatever group is set up should be made up of people with dementia, supporters, experts from the likes of Innovations in Dementia, TIDE, who are not afraid to stand up to policy makers – non negotiable and paid appropriately. Real people with real knowledge, real experience, along with the few policy makers who can make it happen but who LISTEN, MAKE NOTES, and put into ACTION.”
Well said Wendy. Come on you policy makers, it’s time to start catching up quick.
“Ooh aah ooh aah” is the favourite expressions of one of the lovely gentleman in our group.
This week, his catchphrase prompted me to dig out some cowboy hats and blonde pig tail wigs from my dressing up box and get us all singing along to “I’ve Got A Brand New Combine Harvester” at our Music for the Mind” session. Well done everyone and thank you all for joining in the fun and getting dressed up. Our fortnightly sessions are all about expressing ourselves and creating some new memories in a fun, positive, caring and supportive environment.
I’m looking forward to our Music for the Mind session next Monday on 19th February.
Please forward to anyone you know living with dementia or who is looking after someone with the illness. Our sing along sessions are great fun and a good opportunity to make some new friends. Everyone is welcome.
I was really excited to read the following BBC News item about a project called “Songs and Smiles” on line yesterday.
In a care home in Walthamstow, north-east London, babies, toddlers and elderly residents are coming together to sing and play musical instruments together.
“Songs and Smiles” is a “Together Project” founded by Louise Goulden, who whilst on maternity leave brought young and old together to help reduce loneliness and have a positive impact on those residents who have dementia. What a wonderful idea!
“Songs & Smiles is a wonderful project that bridges the gap between generations. Our residents get so much out of it, I’d recommend it to any care home” – Depak Luckhan, Manager of Ross Wyld Care Home, London
Another great Music for the Mind session this afternoon. Our group are doing really well and their singing is definitely improving each time we meet. Today we had a whole lot of fun doing The Grand Old Duke Of York with actions!!
A big thank you Gill Cain, Rachel Liddell, Zoe Lyons and Wendy Allan for all your help and support in making this another fun musical afternoon 😘😘
Even though the flu bug and icy conditions outside kept some regulars away, our Music for the Mind sessions are continuing to produce better and better results. This week we had two soloists and saw a severely disabled resident clapping. Absolutely heart warming. Just love these sessions and everyone who takes part. A big thank you to everyone who is helping to make them such a success.
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