Power of music to improve health and wellbeing under discussion at conference

Singing talent from the Vicky McClure Dementia Choir, featured on a BBC TV documentary, will be among the performers at a national conference in Nottingham discussing the role music can play in health and social care.

The one day conference, hosted by the University of Nottingham, will focus on social prescribing – personalised care which connects people with emotional and physical conditions to activities that can improve their wellbeing, and on increasing access to music for people with dementia.

There is growing evidence to show that creativity enriches the lives of people with dementia and their carers. In particular, singing has been found to have benefits for people with the condition and their carers as it is accessible, popular and relatively inexpensive.

© BBC

Bob Hewitt, 85, will be singing at the conference. He was diagnosed with dementia two and a half years ago and is one of the 18 singers in the Vicky McClure Dementia Choir that was made up of people living in and around Nottingham. His carer is partner, Trish Copping, who accompanies him to rehearsals and performances.

Bob said: “It’s been an unbelievable experience. The singing really lifts me up and gives me relief. But it’s also been an opportunity to meet other people with dementia and their carers. I didn’t have much of a social life before but all that has changed with the choir singing. Trish and I have made good friends and knowing there are people who are going through the same makes us feel less isolated.”

Professor Justine Schneider

Justine Schneider, Professor of Mental Health and Social Care at the University of Nottingham said: “In the UK alone, 800,000 people are currently living with this condition. Even people who are significantly disabled by dementia can benefit from taking part in the arts because dementia does not destroy a person’s imagination, nor their capacity for enjoyment. Our research has shown that the arts – music, dance, theatre and visual arts – can effectively engage people with dementia.”

The Power of Music in Health and Social Care 2019 conference, on Monday 4th November, will feature five live musical performances, including artists recovering from severe mental health issues and three Nottingham choirs whose members have dementia.

James Sanderson of NHS England will speak about Social Prescribing. Professor Raymond MacDonald will show how we are all musical improvisers, and Dr Catherine Jordan from the Global Brain Health Institute will explain how music affects our memory. Six interactive workshops will provide skills and knowledge about drumming for health, working with advanced dementia through music and delivering music in health settings and in care homes, as well as four innovations in music care.

Organised in partnership with Lakeside Arts, Room 217 Foundation, Live Music Now, OPUS Music, the Social Prescribing Network, Music for Dementia 2020 Campaign and the Institute of Mental Health, University of Nottingham, the conference will be held at East Midlands Conference Centre from 9-5.

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