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Trust's dementia project set for national adoption

An innovative dementia project developed in partnership between Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and a Norwich-based music teacher, has taken its first steps on the road to national adoption.

Music Mirrors, which uses YouTube links based around a person’s life story, has now been adopted by the South London Health Innovation Network as part of its MyBrainBook project.

MyBrainBook, an internet-based dementia care planning tool, is being developed in partnership with the private sector and will allow people with dementia, and their carers, to write a personalised care plan along with an interactive, online resource centre.

The project is being pioneered by Dr Hugo de Waal, Consultant Old Age Psychiatrist at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, while on secondment in London.

The news comes as Music Mirrors - initially developed by former University of East Anglia lecturer and music teacher, Heather Edwards, through her award-winning Norwich-based dementia charity and support group, Come Singing - has been awarded a £1,902 grant from the Norfolk Community Foundation.

"The support I have received from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust in developing Music Mirrors has been outstanding," explained Heather, who came up with her idea while caring for her own father, who was diagnosed with the condition.

"A Music Mirror consists of a few short sentences - a mini autobiography for a person with dementia - and then lists the music which has been an essential and meaningful part of that person’s life.

"Though a simple concept, it is something positive that can be done after diagnosis, bringing meaningful contact with a carer or volunteer and building a resource to help preserve an identity, which may become fragile as a result of the condition."

Music Mirrors has gone from strength to strength since its potential was first spotted by Dr Hugo de Waal and Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust Research Office, in February, 2013.

Hugo combines his Norfolk work with a secondment at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. He is also Clinical Director for Dementia of the South London Health Innovation Network, where he initiated the MyBrainBook project.

"We were keen to include Music Mirrors in MyBrainBook as for professional and informal carers, it provides an essential and efficient method of establishing contact with someone with dementia," said Hugo.

"As part of MyBrainBook, Music Mirrors will initially be used to help people with dementia across the eight boroughs of South London, where it is estimated around 750 people are diagnosed with dementia per year.

"It is an excellent and innovative project and we hope its inclusion into MyBrainBook could be the beginning of a nationwide adoption for Music Mirrors."

Rhianna Broadway, Research and Development Officer at the Trust, said: "With support from the research office and thanks to Heather’s belief, determination and drive for the project, Music Mirrors has become a shining example of how the Trust can work in partnership with individuals to develop ideas and research that can go on to benefit service users, their carers and the general public as a whole."