SHOUT had a fantastic start to the new academic year with a talk by Rachel Prescott, an occupational therapist working in Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust exploring Playlist 4 Life. Rachel was given the opportunity alongside another occupational therapist to pilot the programme, whereby individuals on a health care of older people ward were provided with an Ipod that contained a personalised play list. There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that music is a powerful tool in the treatment of individuals with dementia, this is due to the fact that the area of the brain involved in the storage of musical memories is one of the last areas to be affected by dementia. The results of the programme were incredibly positive, individuals were observed with decreased levels of boredom, agitation and improved interaction and well-being.
During the talk Rachel discussed the stories of specific individuals she had worked with during the programme, and the effect that the playlist had had on them, one of the most powerful was her description of a man with dementia who was living in isolation. Whilst listening to the music one of the first signs of connection was toe tapping, it was believed that as a result of the playlist his abilities to communicate had improved, and his agitation decreased. One of the most important elements of the programme highlighted by Rachel is the fact that the playlist must be meaningful for the individual, the songs need to be connected to memories. It is therefore vital that the individual’s family or friends are involved in creating the playlist, if an individual is unable to request songs themselves.
Rachel ended the talk with a short video taken from the documentary ‘Alive Inside’, showing the impact that a personalised playlist had on an individual with a dementia diagnoisis. This can be viewed here:
The next steps for the programme are to spread the word of the benefits of music for individuals with a diagnosis of dementia. It is hoped that Playlist 4 Life could be rolled out in care homes, memory clinics, wards and community care, and also in primary care for example GP’s. If you are interested in the work of Playlist 4 Life, on their website you can create your own playlist of songs that are meaningful for you: