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Thursday, 18 July 2024

Music and dementia charity launches month of Musical Tea celebrations

FROM Bananarama Bread to Bread Sheeran and The Rolling Scones, musical baking puns are on the menu in October as Playlist for Life launches a nationwide fundraising campaign to raise awareness of the power of music for people living with dementia.

With regular coffee mornings unable to take place, the charity is encouraging people to connect through music (either virtually, socially distanced or with members of their own household) and raise funds for people living with dementia, whilst also supporting care homes to host fun music activities for their residents, in compliance with government guidance.

Playlist for Life was founded in 2013 by writer and broadcaster Sally Magnusson to ensure that everyone living with dementia has a playlist of personal music and that everyone who cares for them to know how to use it effectively. The charity’s work is based on more than two decades of research showing that ‘personal music’ – the specific tunes attached to someone’s emotions that spark memories – can help those living with dementia by alleviating stress, managing symptoms and strengthening relationships with family members and carers.

Originally planned for April this year, the Musical Tea campaign was put on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions. Now, the charity is encouraging people to connect through music in line with government guidelines. Any funds raised by members of the public will help the Playlist for Life to continue to provide free resources and support to those affected by dementia.

Michelle Armstrong, Interim Executive Director of the charity, said:

“People living with dementia, their families and carers are among those who have been hit hardest by the pandemic. During this extremely difficult time, we have been working closely with families and care professionals to spread joy through the power of music, and now we’re calling on the wider public to get involved.

“Taking part can be as simple as giving your gran a call and chatting about music and memories. It’s all about connecting with each other whilst raising awareness of the power music can have for someone living with dementia. Like all charities, our funding has been impacted by the pandemic, and this campaign will help us to continue supporting those who could most benefit.”

Sandra McCallum cares for her husband David, who lives with dementia and aphasia, meaning he has practically lost his speech. The couple, who live in Glasgow, worked with Playlist for Life to build David’s personal playlist.

Sandra said:

“What I find amazing with the playlist is that David’s speech comes back and he sings along to some of the songs when he listens. I can see that he’s enjoying it and it gives him a real boost. I think playlists are a great idea for people living with dementia, who can sometimes forget who they are and what they used to enjoy.”

The first Musical Tea campaign took place last year on BBC Music Day, a UK wide celebration that brought over 100 organisations working across the dementia field together with special broadcasts and programmes. Hundreds of people have already signed up to October 2020’s Musical Tea month.

Darnley Court care home in Glasgow are hosting their second event this year. Louise Fulton, Home Manager said: 

“Wellbeing has been so important for our residents during the pandemic. Musical Teas give us all a chance to relax and have fun together, and also show families who can’t visit that life is going on within our care homes. We’re still able to send them videos of their family members having fun and enjoying themselves. Our Musical Tea this year will be very different to last year’s as we are strictly abiding by social distancing measures and operating within bubbles, but we are also working with people here and their wellbeing is so important. The whole staff team gets involved and last year we all had great fun trying to come up with the best musical baking puns, like ‘Scones and Roses.’

“I’m so passionate about using music within our homes. It’s amazing to see how it can bring people out of their shell. There have been moments when some of our quieter residents who don’t usually speak that much have burst into song when we put ‘I belong to Glasgow’ on through the Alexa. They know and remember every single word. It’s really amazing to see.”

Abbeyfield & Wesley, a Northern Irish charity providing a range of housing support and care for older people, is also signed up to hold an event in 2020 after taking part last year.

Sally Campton, Community Engagement Manager, said:

“We ran several musical teas in our supported houses and care home last year, with great success. This year, more than ever, we want to find ways of helping our residents connect and Musical Teas are a great way to lift everyone’s spirits.”

The Musical Tea campaign is running throughout October. You can sign up for a free pack at


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