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Your chance to capture musical memories for your loved ones

PUBLISHED: 22:57 26 December 2017 | UPDATED: 12:52 27 December 2017

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

Families are being urged to make the most of seeing their relatives over the festive period by making an innovative musical memoir.

Heather Edwards leading the Alzheimers singing session at Leyham Court in Bowthorpe
Photo: Bill Smith
Archant © 2010
01603 772434 Heather Edwards leading the Alzheimers singing session at Leyham Court in Bowthorpe Photo: Bill Smith Archant © 2010 01603 772434

Music Mirrors may have started in Norfolk, but its success is gaining recognition around the world for the way in which it helps carers, health professionals and families to connect with people who are losing their identity to dementia, cannot communicate well after having stroke or have another health condition which makes communication difficult.

The low-cost idea is to capture the music and sounds which help to spark memories for an individual.

They can be printed off or stored digitally and easily sent to different health care settings, giving carers a life story with sounds and music embedded using Youtube links.

The music and sounds can help to keep memories and feelings alive as time goes on and help people to connect with new carers or health professionals who might have few other clues for getting to know them.

Eastern Daily Press Stars of Norfolk and Waveney Awards ceremony 2017 at St Andrews Hall, Norwich.
Heather Edwards winner of the Commubity Champion of the Year Award.
Picture: Nick Butcher Eastern Daily Press Stars of Norfolk and Waveney Awards ceremony 2017 at St Andrews Hall, Norwich. Heather Edwards winner of the Commubity Champion of the Year Award. Picture: Nick Butcher

Heather Edwards, who runs Come Singing groups in Norfolk for people living with dementia and their carers, was inspired to create Music Mirrors after seeing how people with dementia responded to music and could sometimes still sing even when they had lost the ability to speak.

She said: “Capture your valuable memories while you can so that you can keep your identity, to help you be recognised in the future if you perhaps can’t speak for yourself, and to share with your families. It’s life-enhancing.”

She said Music Mirrors were now also being made by vulnerable adults in sheltered housing, and even by young patients in palliative care, eager to create a lasting legacy and memory for their families.

Miss Edwards worked with the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust to develop the idea and it is being used by the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital’s dementia support service, as well being taken up by the Health Innovation Network of South London.

Zurich University has launched a four-year study into how Music Mirrors can help people, and it was short-listed for a national award in mental health innovation.

Now Miss Edwards, who won the community champion of the year award at the Eastern Daily Press’ Stars of Norfolk and Waveney Awards, is planning to visit several Women’s Institute groups in the coming months, in a bid to encourage more people to help others make Music Mirrors.

HOW TO MAKE A MUSIC MIRROR

Making a Music Mirror is very simple. You do not need to attend a training course or be technologically savvy but you do need to have time to sit down with the person with whom you are making the Mirror or their family and friends, to find out about their life to identify personal sounds and music that trigger positive memories. Gathering the information to make the mirror can be a one-off conversation or take place over a series of conversations and can be a rewarding experience.

To get started, use topics as prompts to collect four or five memories that relate to sound or music (cues), and just a few words to explain each one.

• Write the words as an email or in a format that can be shared and for each memory find a version of the sound or music on Youtube.

• Copy the Youtube link and add it the cue.

• Print out the email on paper as personal information.

• Send and share it with family and friends, or make it available as part of a care plan.

• Store the information with a secure password on the www.musicmirrors.co.uk website. The website will guide you through the process.

Since September 2016, the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library service at the Forum has also been helping people to make their own Music Mirrors.

TOPICS TO DISCUSS WHEN MAKING A MUSIC MIRROR

These seven topics can be a good starting place for creating a Music Mirror. For each one write down the memory in a couple of brief sentences, using the person’s own language if possible. Then add a brief description of the sound or music and a link to a Youtube clip.

1 Where you grew up - town, country, seaside? What you heard.

2 Family and home - street games, music in the house, days out, car journeys.

3 School and working life, time out and holidays.

4 Worship and religious music.

5 Going out and hobbies - dancing, going to the cinema, theatre, hobbies.

6 Listening to the radio or records, favourite television programmes.

7 Things you wouldn’t want to hear.

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