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Bespoke playlists trigger ‘musical memories’ for Chigwell care home residents

PUBLISHED: 07:00 20 November 2020 | UPDATED: 11:22 20 November 2020

Ray Conway, 93, listened to his favourite old musicals thanks to a progamme from a dementia charity which donated refurbished MP3 players to help trigger their memories. Picture: Oakland Care

Ray Conway, 93, listened to his favourite old musicals thanks to a progamme from a dementia charity which donated refurbished MP3 players to help trigger their memories. Picture: Oakland Care

Archant

Memories of Sunday lunch with the family, trips to the cinema and live concerts are being brought back to life for residents of a Chigwell care home, thanks to a donation of refurbished MP3 players.

Ann Bawcutt, 77, relived days of listening to artists such as Julio Iglesias, who she met in person many years ago in Spain. Picture: Oakland CareAnn Bawcutt, 77, relived days of listening to artists such as Julio Iglesias, who she met in person many years ago in Spain. Picture: Oakland Care

Tracks by George Michael, Frank Sinatra, Rod Stewart and The Eagles are among the favourites pre-loaded onto the devices for residents at Lambwood Heights in Lambourne Road.

“Music has great benefits for those living with dementia,” said home manager Sonia Kasese.

“We all experience a great deal of enjoyment in hearing songs that we love, but it’s particularly important for our residents with cognitive impairments.

“Our brains can access musical memories far longer so it’s a great way of making connections with our residents.

“The familiarity of the songs is very comforting, plus it’s a chance to reminisce about the memories the music evokes.”

Ray Conway, 93, is one of the residents enjoying a bespoke playlist of 15 songs.

“We knew there were songs from two particular albums we had to include for him,” said his son, Mike.

“When we were children, every Sunday lunchtime we would either play one record which had songs from The King and I and South Pacific on it, or the soundtrack from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, Flower Drum Song.

“Dad can’t always remember which songs he’s listened to but the enjoyment on his face is clear. And it’s brought back memories for me too – me and my two brothers having a little nip of shandy made from half of Dad’s can of light ale.”

Richard Bawcutt chose songs for his wife Ann, 77, from artists they’d seen together in concert.

“We used to go to see a lot of live music,” remembered Richard, from Chigwell.

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“Her MP3 player has songs from George Michael, Celine Dion and Julio Iglesias - who we actually met!

“We lived in Spain many years ago and we saw him perform in a very small venue.

“He came over and chatted and then sang Feelings to us which was very special.

“Ann clearly enjoys listening to the music. It was a big part of our lives and it was very hard to choose just 15 songs. But I’m sure they all bring back lots of happy memories for her.”

The MP3 players have been provided by Purple Angel Global, a dementia charity which aims to raise awareness of the condition.

Families and close friends are asked to pick out 15 favourite songs so that each one is meaningful.

“We found that, by placing headphones on residents with dementia intermittently during the day, their brain activity is stimulated and switches on all kinds of emotions – even bringing back the ability to converse in some cases,” said Purple Angel founder Norrms McNamara.

“We have found that whilst the music is playing, they can sometimes remember where they heard the music, what they were doing at the time and possibly in some cases how they used to love playing a musical instrument.

“It is without a doubt amazing to witness.”

Lambwood Heights is a purpose-built care home offering residential, nursing, memory and respite care for up to 73 people.

It has been, and is currently, Covid-free and was shortlisted for a set of national awards for its response to coronavirus.

“We are incredibly grateful to Norrms for his donation,” added Sonia.

“The MP3 players are a fantastic way of connecting residents with their loved ones at a time when they can only see them for short periods in our Covid-safe summer house.

“We can see the difference they are making to our residents here. It’s wonderful to see the smiles and laughter.”


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