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New initiatives and funding launched to aid music treatment in dementia patients

A new 'social prescription' for dementia patients has been given the green light.

By Nick Reilly

Vicky McClure, host of Our Dementia Choir, has backed the initiatives

Two new groundbreaking initiatives have been launched to bring the proven benefits of music to thousands of people living with dementia across the UK.

Launched this afternoon at the offices of Universal Music UK, the The Power of Music Fund and the Music Can digital platform will provide what is described as a “social prescription”, after evidence suggested that music could help improve the lives of the 944,000 people currently living with dementia in the UK.

Opening for applications on 22nd November, the Power of Music Fund will allow grassroots dementia choirs and music groups to apply for small grants to cover basic costs, like room hire, travel and refreshments.

One larger grant of £500,000 will also be available for a new Centre of Excellence; a new partnership between health and care providers, voluntary organisations, music providers and dementia support organisations.

The Centre of Excellence will reportedly test new approaches to integrating music as part of dementia care and design new models of care which could be spread across England.  

The National Academy for Social Prescribing (NASP) has established the Fund, which has been kickstarted by a £1 million contribution from the Utley Foundation.

Secondly, the Music Can online platform will go live on 8th November, helping people living with dementia, their carers and musicians to feel truly confident about using music as part of their care.

The website, which is spearheaded by Universal Music UK and developed by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), includes a directory of support, playlists, music activities and advice for those who wish to use music for dementia care.

The site boasts an easy-to-navigate functionality and has been designed in partnership with people who have lived experience, practitioners, and experts – and it will become a vital tool for health and care professionals in helping people living with the condition and their families. 

The two projects build on two of the recommendations of last year’s Power of Music report, published by UK Music and Music for Dementia, and mark an important step forward in dementia care. 

While there is currently no cure, research suggests that engagement with music can offer significant social, emotional and cognitive benefits for people living with dementia. For example, music therapy can reduce agitation and the need for anti-psychotic medication in 67% of people with dementia.

Actor Vicky McClure, who is also known for her work with BBC’s The Dementia Choir, said: “I’m really excited to see Music Can launched and out there. This is such a valuable resource for people living with dementia and those who care for them.

“We need to make it easy for people to be able to find and access services in their communities and navigate the array of digital offers available. Music Can does this and I would urge everyone who plays a role in supporting people with dementia – from family carers, to link workers, GPs, other health and care professionals, and musical dementia service providers – to use this incredibly valuable resource.

“It’s also fantastic to see new funding available for dementia choirs and music groups across the UK and I hope it helps them to keep doing what they do so brilliantly.”

Tony Christie, singer, and Champion for the Music for Dementia campaign said: “I’ve always known that music could make a huge difference to a person’s happiness, and that belief has grown even stronger since I was diagnosed with dementia. I always recommend people in my position to sing if they’re able to or just listen to music. It’s a huge help. I am delighted to support these projects, which will help people diagnosed with dementia to access music more easily – whether they are joining a local choir or using the Music Can platform.”

David Joseph, Chairman & CEO, Universal Music UK, said: “I’m delighted to see the fund and Music Can platform launch today. Both initiatives are perfect examples of the power of music, bringing music and healthcare to together to support people’s wellbeing right across the country.”