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Playlist for Life at Avery

Music is now recognised and acknowledged as a valuable way of reducing distress and anxiety and improving well-being for residents living with dementia, as we highlighted in a previous magazine issue.

Playlist for Life is a charity founded in 2013 by writer and broadcaster Sally Magnusson after the death of her mother, Mamie Baird Magnusson. When Mamie developed dementia, Sally and her sisters nursed and cared for her at home until she passed away. During that time, the family discovered that no matter how lost their mum became they could still reach her with the music that had been part of her life and their family life together.

Playlist for Life helps our staff to work with a resident and their family to create a personalised musical playlist of their life.

We have piloted this approach in five of our care homes: Acorn LodgeAvalon Court, Birchwood GrangeCliftonville and Dukes Court. Staff received initial training from the Playlist for Life team and have then been supported by Jo Crossland, Head of Dementia Care, and Heather Perkins, Dementia Support Advisor, to introduce personalised playlists to residents living with dementia to make a positive difference to their quality of life.

Playlist for life music dementia care home staff teamwork cheering plaques

By appreciating the significance of specific pieces or types of music, staff are engaging in very personal ways with residents and understanding more about them as individuals.

Understanding those pieces of music a resident finds calming or uplifting, staff are able to make sure that these are played when the resident needs specific support. For example, if a resident is becoming anxious or distressed due to noise in a busy area, a familiar piece of calming music can be played to help that resident become calmer potentially reducing the need for medication.

Similarly, if a resident is feeling lost or lonely, an uplifting or more energetic piece of music or series of tunes can be played to improve their mood and outlook.

Kelly Kynaston, a care worker at Cliftonville, said, “I could never have expected Mr M’s fantastic response. I was truly overwhelmed. Mr M completely relaxed, I could physically see his anxieties and agitation disappear.”

On November 20th, staff from the five homes gathered together to celebrate the work that they have been doing to support residents, and to be recognised as certified Playlist for Life Homes.


Paula Bain, Training Officer for Playlist for Life, said “We are delighted to be working with Avery Healthcare. It is truly inspiring to hear about the benefits personally meaningful music is bringing to the residents living with dementia. Everyone involved in embedding Playlist for Life into care at Avery has embraced this with passion and enthusiasm. It’s wonderful to see how this has strengthened the relationships between the resident and their loved ones, as well as the staff who care for them.”

Over the next few months, more of our homes will become involved in this exciting and important way of using music to improve well-being and support residents living with dementia.

The Playlist for Life website provides further information:

Article by Jo Crossland, Head of Dementia Care, for Welcome Home Issue 8.

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