Music for Dementia leads the way on how to use music with people living with dementia

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Music for Dementia is leading the way in supporting link workers on how to use music as part of a social prescription when working with people living with dementia.

Two new guides, which are supported by the National Academy for Social Prescribing (NASP), describe how link workers can assess music needs and signpost people to music-based activities and services.

The full-length guide includes a wealth of information, including: details of the benefits of music for people living with dementia; musical social prescriptions; how to have a conversation about music; and how to involve family and friends.

The one-page short guide is a colourful summary of this material, designed in an accessible, quick reference format. It is ideal for printing out and displaying in GP surgeries and clinics.

In the foreword, Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of National Academy for Social Prescribing, said: “This toolkit contains some really helpful and practical advice for social prescribing link workers, and others, to use. By incorporating music-based activities into how we care for, and support, a person living with dementia, we can really help improve their quality of life.”

Case studies included in the longer guide – from people living with dementia, their carers, and a link worker – ably demonstrate the value of music to enhance wellbeing and improve quality of life through a variety of activities. A useful template of questions to ask provides another valuable tool for link workers to shape their musical conversations.

Link workers can help support people in managing the non-medical aspects of their dementia and other conditions. This is achieved through connecting people to local day centres, charities, or community groups to improve their wellbeing and social welfare as well as their health. 

More than 60% of clinical commissioning groups in England have adopted social prescribing schemes, which enable healthcare professionals to refer people with social, emotional or practical needs to a link worker. Social prescribing has been found to benefit people affected by dementia by improving and supporting the social, emotional and psychological aspects of their lives. The number of link workers has risen markedly following the NHS commitment to creating 1000 positions by the end of 2020/21.

Grace Meadows, Programme Director of Music for Dementia, said: “Link workers are already doing a fantastic job of supporting people through social prescribing, and we are delighted to have worked with the National Academy for Social Prescribing on producing these guides to support all link workers to feel confident in helping to make music a part of good dementia care through the social prescribing model.

“There are so many ways to experience music whether at home or in a community setting and, in helping people with dementia and their carers to access these, link workers will be playing an instrumental role.” The guides can be viewed and downloaded directly from the Music for Dementia website

Advice for family and professional care staff Advice for family and professional carers at home – Music for Dementia

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