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Dementia singing groups aiming to branch out

10:00 27 October 2012

Participants enjoy a good tune at the launch of Come Singing dementia singing groups at Costessey Community Centre. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY.

Participants enjoy a good tune at the launch of Come Singing dementia singing groups at Costessey Community Centre. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY.

Archant Norfolk

A group which runs successful singing sessions for people with dementia and their carers has officially launched as an organisation in its own right, as it aims to help set up more sessions.

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Come Singing started four years ago as an offshoot of a Norwich Alzheimer’s Society singing group, but now offers 17 sessions a month in care homes, day centres and for the general public in Northfields and Marion Road in Norwich, in Costessey and New Costessey, Colney and Wymondham,

Heather Edwards, from The Avenues, set up the first session as her father had dementia and as a music lecturer for the University of East Anglia she could see how people with dementia responded to music and search shows that musical memory survives relatively well in dementia.

She said: “I wish doctors would prescribe singing as something to help with wellbeing when people are diagnosed and that befriending organisation could help people in getting to singing sessions.

“I can’t run any more myself and so we are looking for volunteers to help run more sessions, as well as looking to help day centres, care homes, hospitals and other organisations to set up their own by helping them with resources.”

John Cook, 72, of Chipperfield Road, Heartsease, attends five sessions each month with his wife Maureen, 70, who has dementia.

The grandfather-of-one, who used to run the Gordon pub in Thorpe St Andrew with his wife, said: “The groups have helped Maureen to socialise, she’s not under any pressure and she loves joining in with the singing.

“She can’t communicate in conversation but singing - she can sing all the time. To me it makes it a lot easier caring for her and it’s the first time I’ve ever really sung and I enjoy it too. I’m very appreciate of what Heather has done. She’s so enthusiastic, she’s been brilliant.”

With the increase in the ageing population and therefore in dementia, there is now a pressing need to recruit and train new music leaders and supporting volunteers who can set up additional groups as cost-free bolt-ons to existing services in Norfolk. In October, the Norfolk Community Foundation awarded Come Singing a grant of £1,775 funded by Lovewell Blake so the group to not only continue to hold its existing sessions, but also help to set up new ones if willing partner organisations and volunteers can be found.

To get involved in Come Singing, visit the website at www.comesinging.org.uk or call Heather Edwards on 01603 452404.

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