Five minutes with Helena Muller from Lost Chord

Can you tell us about Lost Chord and what your role involves?

Lost Chord is dedicated to improving the quality of life and well-being of people living with dementia using interactive musical stimuli to increase their general awareness and self-esteem. In 1999 it was a ground breaking Charity which aspired to affect the lives of every person struggling with dementia in the country.

20 years ago no one wanted to talk about dementia in fact it appeared to be a ‘dirty word’. Trying to raise awareness to the problems surrounding living with dementia then was like pushing a double decker bus up a hill backwards! However with the establishment of the Dementia Action Alliance, dementia and all the wonderful work it has achieved dementia has become a real buzz word and now everyone is talking about it, which is wonderful!

In 1999 we were probably one of the only charities using music to change the lives of those struggling with dementia, now people are beginning to realise and accept that music does work and there are lots of similar groups working to improve the lives of people with dementia.

How does Lost Chord support people affected by dementia?

Lost Chord uses music to stimulate the areas of the brain that are still intact and in so doing, maintains some sort of communication with people with dementia for longer periods as the disease progresses through its different stages. This becomes more vital when verbal communication has been lost. Highly trained professional musicians produce a varied programme of music using a variety of instruments and styles designed to stimulate invaluable responses from those people with dementia, who often can’t walk, talk, feed themselves or communicate in any way, in an attempt to maintain brain activity for as long as possible through the different stages of the disease.

The frequency and tactile approach from the musicians and volunteers has proved tremendously successful in creating highly beneficial positive responses.

Listening to taped music can have some impact however the most important thing that a person with dementia needs is HUMAN CONTACT and giving them a personal play list means that they are only interacting with an inanimate object and often remaining therefore isolated in their own rooms. It is crucial that they continue to interact with others. This is the vital interaction that the musicians give which helps them remain in contact with their surroundings, helping to reduce their isolation not increase it.

This year you are marking your 20th anniversary! What have you got planned to celebrate?

Over the past 20 years the charity has grown exponentially. From performing just 10 sessions a month in 1999 we now perform more than 160 sessions each month impacting on the lives of almost 4,000 people with dementia every single month. This we feel is something to celebrate, therefore we have organised several events planned over the whole year for our 20th Anniversary from our Anniversary Golf Day to runners in The London Marathon and the London Half Marathon. We are planning to collaborate with the BBC to celebrate BBC Music Day on 26th September with an Afternoon Tea Dance locally in South Yorkshire where the charity was originally established for people with dementia and their carers. This will be followed by a fund raising event with local Pop Idol Tony Christy at the Keepmoat Stadium in Doncaster. We also have a special edition of our Newsletter coming out soon.

However our Flag Ship Event was the Gala Evening at Lincoln’s Inn Great Hall with Sir Cliff Richard and Lesley Garrett supported by our Lost Chord musicians Clare Langan, Anna Tilbrook, Joanne McGahon and Ruby Aspinall. We had a drinks reception with a harpist followed by a 3 course meal, entertainment throughout with a final performance by Lesley Garrett and Sir Cliff Richard. It was a truly magical evening!!

What piece of work by Lost Chord would you like our members to take a look at?

Musicians working for Lost Chord not only complete a report for each session they perform but they are now beginning to post their experiences online via face book and twitter in order to spread the word about how effective Lost Chord’s interactive performances are.

What have you got planned for future work around supporting people living with dementia carers?

Lost Chord is looking to collaborate with local Asian groups in order to bring the impact of traditional and cultural music to people struggling with dementia in the local Asian community.

Find out more about Lost Chord and its work.

© National Dementia Action Alliance 2020. All rights reserved

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