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How singing is helping people with dementia

FUNDING: Nick Bond and Brian MacDowell with Trish Vella-Burrows with the group
FUNDING: Nick Bond and Brian MacDowell with Trish Vella-Burrows with the group

A GROUP of singers are finding their voices thanks to a donation from Home Bay’s county councillors. Nick Bond and Brian Macdowall have paid for 30 sessions for the Seaview Singers, a group for dementia patients and their carers using music and singing to improve wellbeing. It is run by Age UK Herne Bay and Dr Trish Vella-Burrows, of the Sidney De Haan Research Centre, and uses scientific research to shape activities that can slow the effects of dementia and improve other areas of health as well. Dr Vella-Burrows said:

“The group addresses the social aspects of dementia as well as the neurological and physiological aspects because we know a lot about the activities that can stimulate cell health. We understand more and more how important activities where we share something with other people with similar experiences can be. But we also have a lot of fun, we sing silly songs, we write new lyrics and we have a ball. It cheers my week up, we make a wonderful sound and we are very proud of what we achieve.”

WELLBEING: Dr Trish Vella-Burrows uses scientific research to guide the group’s activities
WELLBEING: Dr Trish Vella-Burrows uses scientific research to guide the group’s activities

Audra Streeting, community services manager for Age UK, said:

“It is a fun way to get everyone together. We do have a few people who are good singers but for the rest of us it is just about having fun and joining in. Even in the advanced stages of memory loss, a lot of people still have the ability to remember music and songs and our sessions are filled with enjoyment and laughter. People often say that it is impossible to tell who is suffering from memory loss and who is the carer because we are all just singers.”

Three women who attended with their husbands returned as volunteers after being widowed, and each session ends with tea and biscuits. Cllr Brian Macdowall said:

“Nick and I felt very strongly about supporting this group via community grant monies operated by KCC. The number of dementia sufferers is rising rapidly and it was extremely moving to witness the positive effect these group singing sessions have on sufferers, stimulating them to join in. Equally moving was the camaraderie amongst carers who have formed friendships alleviating the stresses and strains of caring for loved ones.”

The group runs on Friday afternoons and there is also a dementia cafe at Age UK in Reculver Road on Monday mornings. For more information call 01227 749570 or visit www.ageuk.org.uk/hernebay/

Herne Bay Times, March 20th 2014

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