Playlist for Life works with over 2,000 community groups and organisations supporting people living with dementia around the UK. Our ‘Help Point Spotlight’ feature shines a light on some of the amazing groups who are helping people living with dementia to discover the power of personalised playlists as part of their support services.
A big thank you to Kirsteen Powell, Carer Support Worker with Carers of East Lothian for writing this piece about running a successful Playlist for Life event and plans to run more in the near future…
The power of partnership working in promoting Playlist for Life to families affected by dementia
In January 2023 Carers of East Lothian (COEL) teamed up with fellow Help Point Alzheimer Scotland East and Mid Lothian to run a fun musical activity with tea, coffee and cake for people living with dementia and their family carers at the Fraser Centre, Tranent. The aim of the event was to raise awareness of Playlist for Life and to give families affected by dementia the opportunity to experience the magic of personally meaningful music in action.
Staff members Michael Huddleston (Alzheimer Scotland) and Kirsteen Powell (COEL) kicked off the event with a short presentation about music and memory, and how and why to make a personalised playlist, based on Playlist for Life’s online resources for Help Points.
A local carer also shared her experiences of using music to connect with her husband, who has advanced dementia and lives in residential care. The audience were deeply moved when the carer described how her husband, who sometimes appears unresponsive, interrupted a conversation she was having with one of his care workers to take her hand when he heard a piece of music that was played on their wedding day.
The audience then split into two groups to listen to and share memories about music that meant something to them personally. Michael and Kirsteen used the conversation starters worksheet to stimulate discussion and played YouTube clips of the pieces of music participants mentioned. This created a real buzz and there was lots of singing and reminiscing. One family carer said: “this is the most animated I have seen dad in months!”. Another family carer reported that his mother-in-law had spoken about the event for days afterwards. The tea, coffee and cake also added to the party atmosphere!
The event inspired at least two families to make a playlist with or for their loved one living with dementia. In both cases, the carers had heard of the charity before. But what motivated them to act was seeing how enthusiastically participants living with dementia engaged in the activity of listening to and talking about music they enjoyed during event.
On the back of this success, COEL and Alzheimer Scotland are planning to hold further musical fun sessions in towns across East Lothian to raise awareness of Playlist for Life. Please get in touch if you would like to attend or to find out more about our work supporting families affected by dementia – click to email Michael Huddleston or Kirsteen Powell.
Alzheimer Scotland supports families affected by dementia, both people living with dementia and their families and carers. COEL supports support all adults in a caring situation in East Lothian to identify and address their needs and to help them achieve the outcomes they want.
Further information about our organisations is available on the websites: