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Using Personalised Playlists to Support People Living With Dementia

21/03/2023

Rebecca Kennedy, Head of Communities at Playlist for Life, shares how funding from the ScottishPower Foundation is supporting people living with dementia through the power of music.

Rebecca Kennedy, Head of Communities at Playlist For Life

If life was a film, what music would feature on the soundtrack?

At Playlist for Life, we ask those we support to think of the music that is meaningful to them; that takes them back to a place, a person or a feeling from another time in their life.

Everyone has a unique soundtrack created through personal experience. Scientific research shows that personally-meaningful music can be beneficial to people living with dementia.

That’s why we’re passionate about supporting people to live well with dementia through the power of music that’s personal and meaningful to them. We want everyone living with dementia to have their own personalised playlist to improve their wellbeing, and for everyone who loves and cares for them to know how to use this playlist effectively and share that experience.

There’s around 90,000 people living with dementia in Scotland with more than half living at home. An Alzheimer’s Society study suggested that 40% of people living with dementia - and their carers - reported feeling lonely.

The Playlist for Life Help Point network was set up in 2017 to reach these often-isolated individuals and their families, as well as families who have loved ones living in care homes, by partnering with community organisations offering free information and services in their communities.

Live Argyll - Mobile Library

With thanks to the support of the ScottishPower Foundation, this year we are expanding the Help Point network with a focus on harder to reach communities, where individuals affected by dementia may experience higher levels of isolation and less access to support.

Since the project kicked off in October, we have worked with 21 new Help Points in Scotland across organisations including libraries, carers centres and multi-cultural centres.

Live Argyll Libraries are one of the recent additions to the Help Point network, sharing the power of personally meaningful music with their communities. Elizabeth Rafferty of Live Argyll Libraries said:

LiveArgyll libraries are registered with the Help Point network, and we share resources throughout Argyll and Bute. Our library team are very supportive and enthusiastic about Playlist for Life, displaying printed resources in all libraries, including island libraries on Bute, Mull, Tiree and our mobile on Islay. The resources are amazing.

Music is such a powerful tool to help people living with dementia, and it’s great support for families, too. The 100 Years Book is a lovely resource, helping bring smiles and warmth to the faces of our members, and loved ones living with memory loss. To raise awareness within our team, staff have shared songs and memories with each other. We have also promoted the resources using our social media page. Our Library Assistant in Charge at Tiree Library is currently working towards an awareness-raising event with local community groups.

This year marks 10 years of Playlist for Life, and we have big plans to celebrate. As well as supporting the expansion of the Help Point network, funding from the ScottishPower Foundation will contribute to Help Point gatherings and conferences throughout the country, bringing communities together to share ideas and best practice on supporting people living with dementia and their carers, all through the power of personally meaningful music.

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