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Research
Music and Dementia

Music is incredibly powerful, for people living with Dementia, music can reach parts of the damaged brain that other forms of communication can’t. This isn’t magic, it’s science!
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WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR Early-stage Dementia

Dementia can start with small changes in the person’s behaviour or ability. Short-term memory loss is often the first symptom, the person may have difficulty recalling recent events or recently learned information.

It is important that a person with early Dementia is given the opportunity to do things for themselves, and are supported to maintain their independence. Focus on what the person can do, not what they are no longer able to do.

WAYS TO RECONNECT AND ENGAGE THE BRAIN Mid-stage Dementia

In Mid-stage Dementia a person may become more forgetful and confused, and as a result may be upset, distressed and angry because they are feeling frustrated. Listening to familiar music before a known trigger such as sundowning can help reduce agitation. Likewise, participating in group music activities can help to improve social engagement and also decrease caregiver burden.

As the Dementia progresses, the changes become more noticeable. They may need more support with daily tasks and may need to be frequently reminded to eat, drink, wash, brush their teeth, and go to the toilet. They are more likely to become forgetful, particularly forgetting familiar names and faces. They may repeat the same sentence or question over and over.

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HOW TO KEEP YOUR LOVED ONE COMFORTABLE Late-stage Dementia

At this stage the person living with Dementia will need more support and may eventually become completely reliant on others for their care. Memory loss may be severe with the person unable to recognise familiar people such as their spouse or children. The person’s walking may become more unsteady and they may become frailer. Other symptoms include; difficulty eating and swallowing, incontinence, loss of speech and weight loss.

MASTERS AND PHD STUDIESRosanna Mead’s Research

Our Managing Director, Rosanna Mead, is an academic in Sociology. Rosanna’s Master’s Degree in Music Psychology led her to conduct a study on the benefits of live music in acute hospital wards for patients with Dementia, and she is currently finishing a PhD in Sociology at the University of Exeter, conducting an ethnography of agitation in patients with Dementia, how it is manifested, and the role of music in the management of agitation.
Founder and Director Rosanna Mead

National and International Reports

Our work is underpinned by research, both nationally and internationally.
Below are some current publications that have shaped our work over the last year.
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THE UTLEY FOUNDATIONWhat Would Life Be – Without a Song or a Dance, What Are We?
Whilst dementia and music might seem like a niche topic, the work of the Commission has, for the first time, brought together experts, specialists, and people with dementia to examine the topic holistically.
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DEPARTMENT OF HEALTHPrime Minister’s Challenge on dementia 2020
This document launches the next phase of the Prime Minister’s challenge on dementia. It sets out what this government wants to see in place by 2020 in order for England to be the best country in the world for dementia care.
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Dorset Dementia PartnershipsLiving Well with Dementia in Dorset
This is a collaborative plan developed with a range of stakeholders and is a working document which will continue to evolve as further innovations develop. The aim will be to build further on the dementia strategies both local and national to improve care, treatment and support.

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ALL-PARTY PARLIAMENTARY GROUP ON ARTS, HEALTH AND WELLBEINGCreative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing
The Inquiry Report, Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing – Second Edition, presents the findings of two years of research, evidence-gathering and discussions with patients, health and social care professionals, artists and arts administrators, academics, people in local government, ministers, and other policy-makers.
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JOURNAL OF APPLIED ARTS AND HEALTH Arts on Prescription for Older People
Providing evidence of health or well-being outcomes for arts on prescription (AoP) programmes for older people is problematic. This article uses interviews with health, arts and voluntary sector professionals to provide an understanding of the challenges of providing evidence and of sustaining such work. at.
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LONDON ARTS IN HEALTH FORUMStrength in Networks
This report has been written as part of Dementia Connect and builds on Dementia Connect’s belief that: “in making sense of complex artistic interventions and their context-dependent effects, an understanding of different aesthetic, social, cultural, and economic impacts may be relevant.”
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THE RICHMOND GROUP OF CHARITIES Destined to ‘Sink or Swim Together’
The report, Destined to ‘sink or swim together’: NHS, social care and public health, shows that funding one service in isolation can’t prop up the others, and if they aren’t all funded appropriately, they risk collapsing altogether.
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THE HEALTH FOUNDATION What Will New Technology Mean for the NHS and its Patients?
It is notoriously difficult to predict how technological advances will interact with health services and the policy landscape to shape the future of health care.

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Sharing and embedding best practice into music and Dementia care is our main agenda, and we take to research and national polity and disseminate at a grass-roots level, making it accessible to our community. We are on the look-out for research and reports into music and Dementia care to share with healthcare professionals, people living with Dementia, family carers, arts facilitators etc. If you have written or have read any relevant research or reports that you think we should share please submit more information.