Mindsong is a charity working in over 80 care homes, day centres and private homes throughout Gloucestershire, with people who have advanced and complex dementia.
We provide two core services; clinical music therapy and a free volunteer-led programme called Meaningful Music Singing Groups. Both services are aimed at enriching the lives of people who are often isolated and very frail and for whom meaningful verbal communication is no longer possible.
Each year we work with approximately 2000 people. This includes those who have dementia, their carers, relatives and the professionals who provide additional care. Our work has a ripple effect, it not only benefits the person with dementia but those around them.
We have a staff of 10 music therapists, a volunteer management team of 8 and 400 trained volunteers who live all over the county. Every single one of them is devoted to making the lives of people who have dementia better through music.
Music is such a deeply human way of communicating. Listening to or making music together boosts your mood, releases emotions and of course, creates or brings back memories. This is what we do.
Music Therapy is an established clinical intervention and our talented therapists are highly experienced and specialise in dementia. Each session is carefully tailored to a person’s needs. We use a combination of familiar songs and improvisation in order to enable a creative, shared engagement in the music. For a person with advanced dementia, this may mean that the therapist sensitively creates music to reflect the person’s breathing rate, movements or vocal sounds. Through the music, connections can be made, and a unique musical conversation takes place.
Our therapists also provide a valuable service to carers, supporting and above all, listening.
As for our volunteer teams, many wonderful people go into care homes and perform for residents. What we do is different. We sing ‘with’ residents, not ‘to’ them. We sing low and slow, navigating memory or hearing impairment, allowing them to participate to the fullness of their abilities, and to get the maximum benefit from the sessions. We sing the songs that the residents know and love, and welcome their song suggestions, building up, over time, a collection of favourites that is meaningful to each particular group – part of the fun is working out what these are!
We are often there at a bedside, gently singing in someone’s last moments. You will find us holding a hand and making eye contact as someone rediscovers the words to a favourite song. We are there when a couple are able to say ‘I love you and know you’ when for a long time there has been no recognition at all.
Our job can be joyous, sad, amazing, frustrating, humbling and often very funny. None of us can imagine doing anything more worthwhile. In a world that seems to be getting just a little bit messy, we often find ourselves in a room surrounded by good people doing good things – which is joyous in and of itself.
For more information please visit https://www.mindsong.org.uk