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Blog: Let music and singing connect us

Published on 19 November 2020 08:44 AM

Image copyright: Richard Frew Photography

Guest article from Luminate, Scotland's creative ageing organisation, as featured in Age Scotland's Advantage magazine.

We know that singing is good for you, even more so if you sing in a group. This is as true for people living with dementia as anyone else.

Before lockdown, some 40,000 groups were meeting regularly across the UK to sing together. To help ensure those affected by dementia don’t miss out, Scotland’s creative ageing organisation, Luminate, launched their Dementia Inclusive Singing network.

It’s difficult to know that the exact benefits brought by group singing – better physical and mental wellbeing, connection with other, fun and laughter – are among those so desperately needed yet so difficult to reach during the pandemic.

That’s why the team at Luminate decided early on that their aims should not change even as everything was changing around us.

Over the past few months, they’ve welcomed new members and explored practical ways of ensuring that online singing sessions are inclusive of those affected by dementia.

Nothing can replace face-to-face activities, but many singing groups have embraced digital technology. Dementia Inclusive Singing Network consultant, Stephen Deazley, who also runs the Love Music community choir in Edinburgh, described his choir’s first digital term as “something familiar in a new world of separation… a gentle reminder to hope, to sing in the here and now”.

Challenges in connecting socially and emotionally online can be more pronounced for those living with dementia, but they aren’t insurmountable.
Difficulty in accessing and using technology, for example, can be countered by offering some ‘in advance’ technical support for carers. Feelings of being unheard in a digital space can be eased by making more time for ‘digital hellos’ and establishing personal connections.

Luminate will continue to build on the learning, innovation and sheer determination of the past few months to ensure that the Network continues to support dementia inclusive approaches to community singing across Scotland.

‘Come and Sing’ will be trialled in November - a national online singing event for community choirs, singing groups, care homes, individuals and families to come together to learn new songs, sing well-loved classics and socialise.

The Network’s grant scheme has also been relaunched, aiming to fund activities that improve inclusive singing activities including start-up costs, training, special events or equipment that will improve accessibility.

The grant criteria have not changed from original plans, but the context in which these grants will be awarded has changed beyond recognition.

What’s most important to Luminate as we move forward beyond the pandemic is continuing to support people affected by dementia to stay connected and enjoy music and singing – our global language.

Find out more about the Dementia Inclusive Singing Network at: singing.luminatescotland.org or call Luminate on 0131 668 8066.

Advantage Magazine

Advantage is the Age Scotland magazine that provides information, inspiration and ideas to empower Scotland's older people, their families and carers.

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