- Over 80 new groups are to be run thanks to funding from the Utley Foundation, helping to reach 2,400 more people with dementia
- People with dementia are hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, in terms of numbers of deaths but also long-term impact of social isolation
- Singing for the Brain groups help keep people with dementia connected and engaged, music shown to be huge benefit to wellbeing
- Alzheimer’s Society has created unique training and delivery options online allowing care providers and community groups to deliver groups during lockdown
Alzheimer’s Society has collaborated with the Utley Foundation, through its campaign Music for Dementia, to enable 80 more Singing for the Brain groups to be set up across the UK. Music for Dementia, a national campaign backed by The Utley Foundation, aims to make music freely available for everyone living with dementia.
The funding from the Utley Foundation will allow 2,400** more people with dementia and their carers to take part in groups, offering important brain activity, a sense of routine and much-needed social contact, as they face the impact of being isolated and alone during lockdown.
The pandemic has hit people with dementia the hardest, with over a quarter of all deaths due to coronavirus accounted for by people with dementia, and an additional unexplained 52% increase in deaths above normal, unrelated to the virus, likely due to combination of social isolation and the interruption of normal health services.
Singing for the Brain groups keep people with dementia connected, engaged with others, and are a way for people with dementia and carers to interact remotely in virtual singing groups. Sessions bring people affected by dementia together to sing a variety of songs they know and love, with fun vocal exercises that help improve brain activity and increase wellbeing.
Evidence shows that music can help improve and support mood, alertness and engagement of people with dementia, with research* showing that musical memory is often retained when other memories are lost; music can help people to recall memories due to the nature of preserved memory for song and music in the brain.
Since lockdown, Alzheimer’s Society has moved the Singing for the Brain sessions online, developing over a hundred singing groups that improve the lives of thousands of people with dementia across the UK on a weekly basis. Singing for the Brain Live, held at the end of April, streamed a session live on Facebook, joined by Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador Vicky McClure and hundreds of people affected.
The lockdown has forced Alzheimer’s Society to develop innovative ways to deliver all training, support and contact for the groups virtually, working with a number of care homes and other organisations throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland to deliver Singing for the Brain to their communities. The support of £28,000 from Utley Foundation will help Alzheimer’s Society enable individuals and organisations to deliver their own Singing for the Brain sessions.
Alzheimer’s Society offers a range of services to help people affected by dementia in desperate need of support. The charity has also made over 96,600 welfare calls and is taking thousands of calls to its Dementia Connect support line each month, which people say are a lifeline to them. That’s why Alzheimer’s Society has launched an Emergency Appeal at alzheimers.org.uk/Emergency, so Alzheimer’s Society can continue these vital services.
Helen Foster, Director of Operations for Alzheimer’s Society said: “We are delighted and excited that this donation from the Utley Foundation allows us to bring Singing for the Brain to so many more people affected by dementia. They have been hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, and it is vital that we can adapt our usual face-to-face services to ensure people with dementia know they aren’t alone during the crisis, and that support is available.
Like all charities, Alzheimer’s Society has been badly hit financially at this time, which is why we’re so grateful for every penny donated to fund our vital services and Emergency Appeal to support the 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia.”
Neil Utley, Founder and Trustee of the Utley Foundation added: “Music is so crucial to the wellbeing of people living with dementia, which is why we set up our Music for Dementia campaign and why we are so pleased to be able to fund this work by Alzheimer’s Society and their Singing for the Brain initiative. “It is shocking to see the impact that COVID-19 has had on people with dementia and giving more than 2000 people access to this successful service will enable them to regularly experience that connection and mood lift that comes with musical interaction.”