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.

Musical memories in Waltham Forest: Using personalised playlists to help those living with dementia

Waltham Forest Council work in partnership with Playlist for Life to create unique personalised playlists for people in their community. One social worker shares their story of using personally meaningful music to improve the wellbeing of a man living with dementia by reconnecting him to his Caribbean roots.

This full story was originally shared on Waltham Forest Council’s Stories from the Forest. Thanks to them for allowing us to share.

Music can be beneficial for people living with dementia. Decades of scientific research has shown how music can help to reduce anxiety, stimulate the senses, and improve the mood of someone living with dementia.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Waltham Forest Council has teamed up with Playlist for Life to bring personalised playlists to local residents. In this case study, a social worker from the Council helped a man living with dementia by creating a poster of his favourite musician, leading to a unique connection with carers and loved ones through the music of his past.

"RH is from Montserrat and is a big fan of calypso and mento – two popular music genres from the Caribbean."

RH is a 78-year-old man who is living with dementia. His GP noticed that his feet were significantly swelling due to sitting in the same position. RH was told to keep his feet at chest level to allow the blood to circulate through his legs so that the swelling and pain went down. However, due to his dementia, RH kept forgetting to do this.

His social worker considered how we could support RH and came up with a creative way of reminding him to keep his feet raised.

RH is from Montserrat and is a big fan of calypso and mento – two popular music genres from the Caribbean. The social worker researched this further and found an artist called Arrow, who is a famous calypso singer from Montserrat.

The social worker created a bespoke poster for RH, appealing to his sense of humour. It had a picture of the artist with a speech bubble saying, “Arrow says to keep your feet up to stop them feeling ‘hot, hot, hot’.” The last line is a reference to Arrow’s most well-known song.

RH immediately found this funny. The social worker stuck the poster at eye level in front of where RH would sit. When reviewing the situation a few weeks later, RH’s feet has reduced in swelling and pain, and he thanked the social worker for the poster idea. It helped him to remember to raise his feet every time he looked up from his seat.

Additionally, the poster became a great talking point. His old friends from Montserrat would come and visit him and they loved the poster. It was also a great ice breaker to establish a strong relationship between RH and the social worker.

Thank you to Waltham Forest Council for sharing this inspiring and creative example of using personalised music to improve the wellbeing of someone living with dementia.  

Join us for a free webinar

We run short, online introductory webinars to showcase the profound benefits of using personalised playlists in dementia care. 

Find out more about our free sessions and how they could help you with your playlist journey at the Webinars and Online session page on our website.

Help Point Network - How do I sign up?

Every organisation that becomes a Help Point receives a welcome pack containing:

Any organisation that can provide free advice, support or activity to people affected by dementia are invited to apply, from grassroots community groups to libraries, dementia cafes, sports clubs, community Police stations and GP Surgeries. No matter how you reach your community, there are multiple ways for you to set up your Help Point and share the power of personal music.