Shop now open! Share your love of music and support Playlist for Life. Visit now.

Shop now open! Share your love of music and support Playlist for Life. Visit now.

Help Point Spotlight: The Beacon Club

Did you know that Playlist for Life works with almost 2,000 community groups and organisations supporting people living with dementia around the UK? 

In our new ‘Help Point Spotlight’ feature, we’re shining 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.

In this blog Nancy Bryson, Adult Community Services Manager at Space & Broomhouse Hub in Edinburgh, shares how MP3 players filled with music and stories helped to keep their ‘Beacon Club’  members connected and engaged during lockdown and beyond. 

Over to Nancy…

Using MP3 Players to help digital exclusion in older adults

At the start of lockdown in March 2020 we were faced with the challenge of supporting our 30 members who had little or no access to the internet or devices. Being digitally excluded made for a very isolating and lonely time for our members and carers soon reported that the main issue arising from not being able to attend the service was boredom, a lack of stimulation and loneliness.


Our response to this need was to provide our members with MP3 players pre-loaded with personalised playlists, audiobooks and podcasts. We consulted with Playlist for Life and ACE IT [an Edinburgh charity which helps older people learn digital skills] to choose an MP3 player that would suit our member’s needs best.

We pre-loaded each MP3 player with classic books, podcasts covering a range of topics (from music & memories to local history) and the individual personalised playlists. The MP3 players were then sent to members’ carers and next of kin with advice on the best time to try the MP3 player and how to use it. A large visual aid showing how the player worked was also included.

After the first month we contacted 25 carers for feedback. The majority were able to use the devices and reported that our club’s members enjoyed listening to the player.

When asked what the member’s favourite section of the player was, their personal music had the largest response with one family member reporting:

“I didn’t think mum would like listening to the player as she is 98 years old, but as soon as the music came on she started tapping her foot and enjoyed every minute."

When asked what the members would like to listen to in future downloads, we received further requests for country & western music, big band music and 1950s music along with preferences for types of audio books. 

Overall, the MP3 players were well received by our members, with nineteen respondents saying the MP3 players had helped to alleviate boredom and stimulate conversation. We continue to fill the MP3 players monthly with new requests for personal music, stories and other content they think their members will enjoy and in this way our project is a good example of collaboration and personalised support. 

One last thing I would like to share with you, one of our oldest members of the Beacon Club passed away last month, her daughter told me that the last few days before her mum passed away, she could not talk but when her family put the headphones on her and played the music form the MP3 player, her eyes would sparkle as she listened along. 

Thanks to Nancy and The Beacon Club for sharing these invaluable insights with us.

Find out more about the support offered by The Beacon Club on their website or download their full MP3 player report.

You can access Playlists for Life’s free materials on our Resources Page, including our MP3 player guidance.