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Project helps people living with dementia

Published: 6 September 2018 at 15:29


Event to share results of initiative between Anglia Ruskin and Saffron Hall

The results of a partnership to investigate the benefits of music therapy for people living with dementia was presented at a special event in Saffron Walden last week.

The first year of the collaboration between the Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research at Anglia Ruskin University and Saffron Hall saw 70 people (35 couples) attend the Together in Sound music therapy groups.

Initial research findings show that 100% of respondents liked singing and playing instruments together and sharing experiences with others. 

The research also found that participants valued opportunities to mix with people experiencing similar circumstances to their own. Carers, who completed a rating scale, indicated an increase in quality of life for the person with dementia relating to mood, friends, and ability to do things for fun. These relate to the aims of Together in Sound, which focus on communication, healthy relationships, collaboration, opportunities to socialise, and sharing music. 

People with dementia who completed a rating scale, rated a slight increase in mood and memory, while other aspects including energy, living conditions and physical health were rated as slightly decreased, reflecting an expected progression of their condition.

The presentation, at the Salvation Army Hall, shared initial research findings that look closely at the impact music therapy has upon the quality of life of participants. 


The full project team, including Professor Helen Odell-Miller OBE, and some of the participants were present to answer questions and talk to those interested in finding out more. Anglia Ruskin University Music Therapy students and Sarah O’Flynn – flautist of Britten Sinfonia – also performed during the event.

Claire Molyneux, Lecturer in Music Therapy at Anglia Ruskin University and Registered Music Therapist for Together in Sound, said: 

“Music therapy is able to address many areas that support quality of life for people living with dementia. 

“Over the 10 weeks of each group, it is encouraging to see changes in confidence, participation, communication and coordination. People attending the groups make new friends and strengthen bonds with loved ones.”

One participant who took part in the project described it as: 

“Magical. Gone are the pressures are everyday life.”

Another said: 

“It was a lovely chance to take part in an activity with my mother that had a positive impact on both of us, and which was easy, enjoyable and a chance to see glimpses of my mother’s old self.”

Together in Sound restarts in October 2018 and will run for 10 weeks at the Salvation Army Hall. An information sheet and an application form are available at saffronhall.com/take-part/together-in-sound-saffron-walden or by calling 01799 588 545. The taster sessions are only open to those living with dementia and their carers, and numbers are limited.