5 minutes with Grace Meadows from Music for Dementia 2020

We talk to Grace Meadows, Programme Director for Music for Dementia 2020 about the two-year long campaign, the announcement of their new ambassador and the benefits of music for people living with dementia.

Can you tell us about Music for Dementia 2020 and what your role involves?

The International Longevity Centre conducted a sector wide commission into music and dementia across the UK, funded by The Utley Foundation. It brought together the views of over 1,500 senior academics, politicians, researchers, practitioners and those affected by dementia. The findings of the report, launched at the House of Lords, strengthened the case for bringing music and dementia further into the public forum. The Music for Dementia 2020 campaign was set up in response to this, taking the lead by creating a national taskforce made up of stakeholders from across the music and dementia field to embed music into all dementia care pathways. The campaign will act as a catalyst to create local and national projects, from understanding how to create the right environments in care settings, through to the use of radio, participation in music making, creating playlists, listening to performances and music therapy – with the aim of using music to enhance care pathways. It will look to mobilise government and the entire music industry to change the way it thinks about music and dementia. The goal is simple – to make music available for everyone living with dementia by 2020.

What other jobs have you had in your career to date and how did they lead you to your current role?

My career has always been music focused, having worked with the Music Manifesto and Sing Up after graduating from music college, before training as a music therapist. As a music therapist I have worked with children and adults, in special educational needs school, adult learning disability services, adult mental health services and most recently in a child development service. Alongside my clinical role, I previously worked for the British Association for Music Therapy as Development Director. Within this role, I developed a particular interest in looking at how music could be embedded into dementia care. It was through this work that I first came into contact with the Utley Foundation and supported with the Dementia and Music Commission. I then joined the Foundation in August 2018.

The Department of Health and Social Care have been promoting social prescribing and the benefits of music especially, as Music for Dementia 2020 is focused on this area could you tell us a bit more about your experience of the power of music for people living with dementia?

Every day, we hear from people across the country who tell us about how music is transforming the lives of people living with dementia and those who care for them. From bringing communities together, to a daughter and mother having a shared musical moment together, to a commissioner who wants to make music a part of the dementia care they provide, we see how music makes an impact in the moment, but also on a long term basis by changing how people are supported with music becoming part of their long term care. We are continually amazed by the innovative, creative and sensitive work that we are being told about, and never fail to be moved by the personal stories people want to share with us. These stories are invaluable because without them, people can’t know of the life-changing impact music can have for people living with dementia.

You recently announced a new ambassador for your organisation, could you tell us who that is and what their role involves?          

We were delighted to announce BBC TV and radio presenter Lauren Lavern as our ambassador for the Music for Dementia 2020 campaign. Lauren will be hugely influential in helping to raise awareness and understanding of the benefits music can have on the quality of life for people living with dementia. Lauren will bring her experience and insight from the music industry to her role. She will help shape the campaign over the course of two years and increase awareness around how and why music can be used as an integral part of dementia care. 

The benefits of music for people living with dementia seem to be pretty clear, do you think more needs to be done to make that available to everyone?

There is a fantastic range of excellent work taking place across the UK for people living with dementia. However the International Longevity Centre-UK commission report highlighted that more needs to be done to help improve access to music offerings. One of the key recommendations from the commission was to improve public awareness around the power of music.  With Lauren’s support, we will be delivering a series of campaigns over the next two years to shine a light on the value of music in dementia care. The campaign also wants to see everyone in the UK living with dementia to have access to the music that means most to them.  And for it to be accessible in the most appropriate and effective ways. For some, this will mean ensuring they have the right technology, enabling them to enjoy their favourite music wherever and whenever they want. For others, it means being able to attend music groups and participate in music-making. For some, it may mean working with a music therapist. Music for those living with dementia isn’t a nicety, it’s a necessity and we want to make music readily available and accessible for all.

Tell us something interesting about yourself

I absolutely love being in the sea, snorkelling around reefs and coves, particularly with sharks and turtles!

For more information on Music for Dementia 2020 you can visit their website at https://www.musicfordementia2020.com/

© National Dementia Action Alliance 2021. All rights reserved

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