Julian and his Nanny

From Northamptonshire

My Nanny, who died about a decade ago, had vascular dementia for the last 10-15 years of her life and by the end didn’t know any of us at all. Yet I recall well that she sang along with gusto to “We’ll Meet Again” by Vera Lynn during a music listening session during the last weeks of her life. She even remembered who some of us were while she was singing – encouraging us to sing along. A rare good memory from her final days and one we all treasure.

Song that stood out: Vera Lynn – ‘We’ll Meet Again’

Wall of Memories

Collage of Harmony and Hope

While carrying out work for the charity, whether that be in care homes, in talks with businesses and other charities, or even socially explaining what Music for my Mind does, we are constantly amazed by stories of personal experiences of music in dementia care. It seems everyone has a relative who, when living with memory loss, found solace – and in some cases momentary restoration – in their favourite songs.

These memories are incredibly heart-warming, really confirming to us that the charity is doing valuable work, but all too often the quantity of them leaves us ourselves forgetting who said what, which song which person sang along to, and most of all how many we have heard.

Well, now we are going to put this anecdotal evidence to work. Utilising the interactive elements of our website, and in support of this year’s theme for the BBC Music Day (Music and Well-being), we have created a ‘Wall of Memories’.

Music for my Mind would like to announce its newest venture, which is the ‘Wall of Memories’.

This is an interactive chance for you and your family to share experiences of music in care for people living with dementia. If you have ever witnessed the transformational power of music for those living with memory loss, or know friends or colleagues who have, we want to hear from you! Simply click on the button below, fill out the form and share your personal experience with us. We will then pin it to our interactive wall, creating a memory collage of harmony and hope.

This project will help Music for my Mind to show a real demand for music therapies in dementia care, with a whole host of personal experiences displaying the power of song. Proof of demand is essential for our ongoing projects and our hopes to secure funding, so the more memories you can share the better. Even a small sign, such as a tap of the foot, a smile or a snatch of lyrics, could, if shared, lead to great things in the future of dementia care and the families of those who live with memory loss.

The current state of affairs

Part 2 of 3 by John Peatfield

If the first of this series of blogs was about the past of Music for my Mind, then here we shall address – you guessed it – its present.

Dementia Infographic

And dementia is indeed, both for those living with it and their families, a very present issue. As we have already seen 850,000 people live with dementia in the UK alone, and of them: 61% feel anxious or depressed, 40% feel lonely or isolated from a community because of their condition, and 52% do not feel sufficiently supported by the Government. With predictions that by 2051 there will be over 2 million people living with dementia in the UK, these issues are only on the increase. But this is now not merely a healthcare problem, but one which does and will continue to severely affect the British economy, with £26.3bn spent on care, predominantly out of the pockets of unpaid carers who are often economically active family members (all stats courtesy of the Alzheimer’s Society.

This is all rather bleak, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There are a number of organisations which are trying to solve and allay the severity of the numbers above. Aside from MFMM, there are charities such as Live Music Now, which uses creative music Apps, encouraging care-home residents to become interactively involved in music composition, and Music In Hospitals and Care, which employs professional musicians to perform for residents and display the restorative power of music first hand.

However, there are two distinct obstacles to the great work all of these charities do, the first of which is the hurdle before all the grand plans of life: money. Dementia already costs around £30,000 per person per year, and care programs which can cost anywhere between £200 to £3,400 annually are the first to be cut in already expensive field. Personal Health Budgets (PHBs) and Integrated Personal Commissioning (IPC) can cover some of these costs, but these are often only available to the most severe of cases, and focus more on physical need than mental recuperation. This means that independent charities must cover the costs for musical therapies, using a combination of grants and crowdfunding both to continue existing treatments and research more effective ways of providing care for those living with dementia.

The second obstacle, which despite having a friendlier name is no less formidable, is the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). NICE’s job is to ensure that the standard of care in UK hospitals and care homes is both equal throughout the country and, as they say, excellent. NICE seems rather like a particularly strict teacher, whose intentions and qualifications are beyond question, but who is incredibly hard to convince that you did get that question right and you do deserve that ‘A’. Owing to the limited amount of money the Government, and especially the NHS, has to play with, any new innovation in care must come with irrefutable evidence of triumphant success to justify the expenditure. Thus, for the world of music and dementia care, where much evidence is anecdotal and results are hard to quantify, getting past NICE is fraught with difficulty. Charities can and do operate in care homes, playing music live and through technology in order to care for residents, but to get this to be the standard level of care across the country (MFMM’s major goal) is a task not to be taken lightly.

And yet, we do seem to be moving further down that tunnel towards the sunshine. In 2018 the International Longevity Centre, funded by The Utley Foundation, commissioned a report on the current status of musical therapies in the UK and where they should be, knowing that dementia is a growing issue. Starting with a solid ABBA reference (‘Thank You For The Music’ for those of you who couldn’t guess), the report goes into incredible detail about music, its effects and its use in healthcare. At times it really doesn’t hold fire, talking of ‘devoted advocates operating in a complex and poorly coordinated ecosystem’, but is generally incredibly positive about what is already being done and righteously bellicose about what is left to do. It highlights the ‘promising evidence which is quickly gaining traction’ and demands (thinly veiled under the word ‘recommendations’) new research, new reviews, new postings – including a ‘high profile Ambassador for Music and Dementia’ – and a wave of increased funding and awareness of what music can do for memory loss (7-8).

But where does MFMM fit into this? Although it does often operate in care homes, MFMM, not to blow its own trumpet (but yes, toot toot), is more of an intellectual force. It plans to develop technologies and integrate them into a standard care package available for all (a.k.a. convincing NICE to give us that ‘A’), shown here in their four-point plan:

  1. To develop cost effective and user-friendly technological solutions to enable rapid creation of personalised playlists for people living with dementia.
  2. To develop cost effective and user-friendly solutions for the delivery of personalised music in a range of dementia care settings.
  3. To build the evidence base for the effectiveness of personalised music to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of people living with, or affected by, dementia.
  4. To promote awareness and take up of personalised music to improve the quality of life of people living with, or affected by, dementia.

Research is the key to progress, and as only £90 of that £30,000 per person annually is spent on research, the work done by MFMM is invaluable for the future of dementia care. The next blog post will go into more detail about this future, but for now it is safe to say that MFMM has its eyes fixed firmly on the end of the tunnel, and can almost feel the warmth of the sun.

Bike ride for charity – Brewood to Brighton

Brewood to Brighton bike ride

A journey originating with the idea to organise a bus ride in aid of Alzheimer’s disease charities, after members of their families were diagnosed with dementia. A gathering of friends in the local pub on a Friday night turned that idea into a reality and the Tett family bike and bus ride challenge began!

Brewood to Brighton bike rideThe challenge was as follows: two groups will do the journey of circa 240 miles between Brewood and Brighton – half on push bikes and the rest using only public buses. The trip was to be accomplished over 4 days, starting from Brewood on 10 April 2019 and both groups met up each evening at set stops en route before finally reaching Brighton on Saturday 13 April where the journey was completed with recapping over another beer or two in celebration of the achievement.

We are grateful to be one of the chosen charities that the Tett family decided to raise money for, alongside Cancer Research. The Tett’s have been incredible supporters and they have expressed great belief in our project. We had the pleasure of knowing Huguette Tett, which you may have seen in our video, responding beautifully to her favourite French songs from her youth.

The total funds the family donated to Music for my Mind were £3,028, which will help us further on our mission to bring personalised music to everyone living with dementia, in order to improve their quality of life and that of their families and carers.

If you would like to organise your own fundraising event in support of our charity, you can get in touch with us by emailing info@musicformymind.com or using our contact form here.


Quantum Care and Music for my Mind

Quantum Care logo

Music for my Mind’s research supported by Quantum Care homes

We are very excited to announce that we have partnered with Quantum Care on conducting our research programme. They are a not-for-profit care home group operating throughout Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Essex, serving over 2,000 older people. One of Quantum Care’s core values is providing high quality person centred care, which is essential for us and for the end result we are trying to achieve – bringing benefits for people living with dementia.

Similarly to Music for my Mind, Quantum Care put a strong focus on innovation. One of our charity’s aims is to utilise new technology and make it usable in a care home setting. We are excited by the opportunity to bring new technological solutions for creation and delivery of personalised playlists for their residents.

“We believe that the outcomes of a research project such as this, can have a hugely positive impact not only on our residents but may have significant implications throughout the wider UK dementia care system.” – Debbie Gilard, Head of Corporate Services at Quantum Care

Our project will look to benefit not only the residents from the care homes, but their family members, friends and carers too. Seeking the care home staff’s input and thoughts on how we can create a process that is beneficial to them too, is important to us, as they are the people who work on the frontline of dementia care.

You can read more about the first stages of our work in the Quantum Care homes, in their annual report here.

If you would like to read more about our research programme, visit our Feasibility Studies page.

Sosei Heptares and Music for my Mind Partnership

We are delighted to announce the Sosei Heptares and Music for my Mind partnership. Sosei Heptares is a company aiming to make a significant contribution to improving the quality of life and health of people around the world, by discovering, designing and developing innovative and effective medicines, through its world-leading patent-protected technology and platform.

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Utilising technology in dementia care

Music for my mind and technology

Recent technological developments from the field

As a technology-driven charity, we are excited when we read about all the technological advancements being implemented in the health system and into care, particularly for people living with dementia. We believe that utilising existing technology pieces to improve the quality of life for people with dementia is what the future of care should be.

We’d like to share with you some notable news stories from this field.

       According to the Business Insider, the market for tech products for ageing Baby Boomers is expected to reach $20 billion by 2020. Digital technology is becoming more and more accessible to older people and no longer only aimed at benefiting younger users. Some of the technologies highlighted in the article include robot companions, smart speakers, location trackers, on-demand care service and life-like pets.
Read the full story here:

       It’s been known that reminiscence therapy has many beneficial effects for people with dementia. The ability to immerse yourself in a familiar place and relive precious memories, is exactly what Dorset-based care and support provider Tricuro offers to people with dementia, through Virtual Reality. Day Service Officer Mika Davis said: “When you’ve got a disability, particularly like dementia it closes so many doors and I don’t think people’s pasts should be one of those doors that’s closed.”  This experience also allows for a closer connection and bonding between the care home staff and their residents.
For the full story:

       The power of new technology has also been harnessed in research and diagnosing early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. A research at the University of California San Francisco is working with artificial intelligence to detect very subtle changes in levels of specific molecules in the brain, surpassing the time a clinical diagnosis can be made by six years. “One of the difficulties with Alzheimer’s disease is that by the time all the clinical symptoms manifest and we can make a definitive diagnosis, too many neurons have died, making it essentially irreversible,” says Jae Ho Sohn, MD, MS, a resident in the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at UC San Francisco. This new method can help diagnosing Alzheimer’s early on, giving the possibility to administer treatments that can help stem the condition’s progression.
For the full story, click here:

What’s in store for 2019 – looking ahead

whats in store for the year ahead music and dementia

Achievements and visions

What have we achieved so far and what we plan to, looking ahead in 2019. The past year has been an inspiring and exciting one for Music for my Mind, filled with incredible support from so many people. Our journey and key milestones so far have included conducting pilot studies in care homes, assembling an influential and highly skilled group of Trustees, staff, advisors and during 2018 – gaining over 350 supporters.

We have developed important partnerships with a range of organisations and individuals who can help us, in the last year most importantly with Quantum Care – a group of care homes excited about innovation and use of technology to improve the quality of life of their residents.

Over the past year we have also been fortunate enough to expand our team and welcome a full-time Project Assistant, Dimana Georgieva. We also have the vital support and advice of many experienced consultants in strategy, fundraising, marketing and technology development.

Looking ahead

With all these achievements, we are raring to go to dive into another year of this exciting journey. Looking ahead, our main activities in 2019 will focus on research and further technology development.

Music for my mind - looking ahead in 2019Research:
In 2019 we will be undertaking the first phase of social science/mixed methodology research to explore issues such as:

  • a systematic review of the literature on music and dementia;
  • a favourite songs review by age in non-dementia populations.
  • demography in care homes, including
    § stages and severity of dementia,
    § the proportion of residents with relatives and how often they visit,
    § who has power of attorney?
    § drugs being prescribed
    § music and other activities currently being used

We are working on our programme of feasibility studies and accompanying protocols, including consideration of appropriate levels of ethics review. Through this programme, we will explore some key operational questions such as the frequency, timing and length of use of personalised music, impact on sleep or wellbeing, etc.

MFMM looking ahead in 2019Product development:

Our other main are of focus throughout the year is to continue developing a tool for creating and delivering personalised playlists that can easily be used and implemented in care homes. During 2019 we aim to draw up the specification for an app to enable rapid creation of personalised playlists, using existing music delivery services (such as Spotify) and based on people’s musical and behavioural background. This involves a lot of tests and versions, to reach a product that will work best within a range of care settings.

Alongside these two main areas of activity, we will continue to raise awareness about the effects of personalised music for people living with dementia, through different campaigns and initiatives throughout the year. We will also keep our stakeholders and supporters informed of relevant news in this area and other relevant technological or therapeutic advancements.

We at Music for my Mind hope to get much closer in 2019 to our vision for every care home in Britain to have a music programme and for everyone living with dementia to benefit from personalised music as an integral part of the therapy and care they receive.

To support our app development, visit our crowdfunding page to donate.