Our Dementia Advisers are hearing from people living with dementia and their carers daily the impact of lockdown, and for most, the lack of social activity and inclusion is having a negative impact on the person living with dementia and thus increasing the strain on the carer. In response to the pandemic, Alzheimer’s Society have re-designed Singing for the Brain sessions to be offered virtually and this has been a lifeline to people living with dementia and their carers. There are currently no virtual offers for activities specifically for people affected by dementia on Anglesey; this financial contribution will enable us to support people affected by dementia in Anglesey to access virtual Singing for the Brain (SFTB) sessions.
Overview from September, 2020 – March, 2021
- We have developed, professionally printed, and posted 100 copies of a Singing for the Brain lyric book. The lyric book is dementia friendly and will be sent out to people affected by dementia in Anglesey to enable them to engage in the sessions.
- We have held three weekly sessions for people affected by dementia to be involved in and these have been offered to existing service users in Anglesey.
- We have developed a promotion plan with the Singing for the Brain coordinator and relevant resources to distribute amongst our partners in health, social care and the 3rd sector to increase awareness of the sessions and to enable those are not accessing support through our Dementia Connect service to be involved. This includes working with the local residential and care homes.
- From service user feedback we have identified the need for a Welsh language specific Singing for the Brain session which is now held every Monday on a weekly basis.
- We held a virtual ‘St David’s Day’ themed Singing for the Brain session which celebrated Welsh language and culture.
Since September 2020 we have:
- Delivered 81 virtual Singing for the Brain sessions through Zoom
- Reported on average 20 people affected by dementia attending each session (we have reported an average as attendance can vary per week)
- This included a mixture of people living with dementia, carers and family members and paid carers.
Our outcomes for virtual Singing for the Brain are:
- People with dementia either on their own or with their carers have been provided with a forum where communication and participation are encouraged using music and specialist facilitation.
- People with dementia and where they attend, their carers, can meet regularly with other people with dementia, and people with dementia and their carers.
- People who access the service feel that Singing for the Brain is a stimulating social activity that enhances well-being and confidence.
- Singing for the Brain enables people living with dementia and their carers to develop social networks and people with dementia and their carers and/or family members feel that attendance has helped in reducing or preventing social isolation, contributing to improved quality of life.
- People with dementia and their carers and/or family members feel that attendance has helped in improving and/or reducing challenging behaviours and in enhancing communication.
- People with dementia and their carers have had opportunities to participate in continuous quality development and improvement of the service through informal and formal methods of feedback.
We completed evaluations with 16 members of our Singing for the Brain members and identified in relation to the above outcomes:
- That all participants felt that had been supported by the Singing for the Brain Coordinator to communicate and participate in one of the three sessions. They were provided with Zoom advice and support where it was required.
- Members have been able to meet regularly with people living with dementia and carers from across the whole of North and South West Wales.
- Without Singing for the Brain, the members who completed the evaluation said they would have had little to no other activities to participate in that would have provided stimulating social activity. Although most would prefer this to resume back to face to face as soon as possible, they were extremely satisfied with the continuation of the service through virtual means.
- Some of our members described Singing for the Brain as a lifeline – carers expressed that it was the one time a week in which they would participate in something ‘fun’ with their cared for, and how this helped to reduce pressure and even provide an hour of respite in some cases.
- Two members had reported significant changes in the person they cared for – one person living with dementia who was nonverbal had started to make verbal communications throughout songs and another carer noticed how visibly her cared for had been following the sessions.
- People with dementia and carers have been involved in service development – our Welsh language members really appreciate the Welsh language session and helped us to create out St David’s Day session. They have also shared the positive impact of the sessions as part of internal communications at the Society and externally through promotional activity.
In addition to the above outcomes additional outcomes have been achieved:
- Our Singing for the Brain songbooks have been sent not only to members who attend virtual sessions, but to people who are unable to access our virtual services. This has provided an opportunity for the care (paid and unpaid) to facilitate an activity with the person with dementia or to support reminiscence.
- We have been able to contact care homes and where they have the resources to do so, they display the sessions in a communal area for residents who have dementia to participate in. This has provided the homes with an additional activity for all to get involved with.
- We have provided support with Zoom; some of our members have used the skills we have given them to access Zoom to use it for other means e.g. contacting friends and family.
Quotes from Singing for the Brain Members
For my husband, it has been astonishing to see him transform from the silent, withdrawn, apparently sombre person to a lively and enthusiastic singer. He has also had a smile on his face during Singing for the Brain.
We both feel that the Singing for the Brain Coordinator is a very valuable asset. Her enthusiasm shines through and she is always cheery and upbeat, and that can be infectious. The choice of music is good, and the production of the songbooks has been very helpful. She is a welcoming presence and always makes sure to have a few individual words with each participant; her use of language is appropriate and the style and pace is pitched just right.
It has given some point and pleasure to afternoons during this dreary covid confinement. Look forward to when we can meet up for real.
It helps to keep in touch with everybody. Even on zoom we still feel connected. It has given us something to look forward to. They all remember Mum’s name too which makes Mum feel like she is part of something.