Focus on dementia care for awareness week | News and events

Focus on dementia care for awareness week

heather edwards

This Dementia Action Week, 13-19 May, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) is highlighting the work it is doing to help those affected by the debilitating disease.


A pioneering music project to help people with dementia is being promoted by NSFT, which helped support its development.

Music Mirrors was an innovation created by Norwich music teacher Heather Edwards, founder of the voluntary organisation Come Singing, which runs therapeutic groups for people living with dementia in Norwich via Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, Age UK, NHS, BUPA, Norse and other organisations.

NSFT Staff have received training in using the digital resource, which adds music to care plans of people in the early stages of dementia.

The idea is that they are easy to share among friends, family, carers and organisations to give comfort, spark memories and make connections.

Heather, who also runs regular music events at Hammerton Court at the Julian Hospital, Norwich, for people with dementia said: “ We all know moments when hearing a simple snatch of music opens up a whole world of memories and feelings and makes us think of people, places, words and times we have long forgotten.”

Heather presented at the training session, explaining that music is an intuitive tool for communication, helps people to ‘know themselves’.

She said: “Music helps people recall the place, the smells, tastes, people and words in memories and research shows the advantages to ‘hooking’ up memories before someone declines. This reduces carer burden and the need for more serious interventions as it makes patients more co-operative with families and care staff who are trying to support them.”

Heather’s own experiences with her father backed this up. “I would read to him read from a diary he had of stories from his childhood, and he would become calmer and respond better to those supporting him,” she said.

Heather’s work on Music Mirrors was supported by NSFT and was also the subject of a four-year study at Zurich University, which showed improvement in outcomes for patients.

The system has been used by other trusts in the UK, including Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) to reduce stress during MRI scans.

Following on from Dementia Action Week, on Monday 20 May NSFT Older People services will be taking part in the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital Dementia Fayre.

The event, in the East Atrium and Benjamin Gooch Lecture Theatre, 10am-3pm, will also be attended by other dementia support groups including Age UK and the NNUH Dementia Support Team and will include talks and Q and A sessions.

It aims to raise awareness of dementia as well as provide valuable support to all those affected. Healthcare workers and members of the public are all welcome.

Sarah Nichols, NSFT safer care practitioner, said: “Taking what we do out into the community to help reduce the stigma around dementia and mental health is so important. This is a great opportunity for NSFT to spotlight the many dementia services we provide with our skilled teams of professionals, from the specialist level of assessment, care and treatment for men and women with dementia, to the support provided for relatives and carers, both in the community and hospital.

NSFT representation at the event is being led by Gillian Mutizwa Lead Nurse at the Julian Hospital, Norwich, and Carlton Court Hospital, near Lowestoft, supported by specialists from NSFT’s multi-disciplinary teams.

Chief Nurse Anthony Deery said: “We are proud that we have been able to support research into the innovative music mirrors tool that supports the care of those with dementia and improves the lives of those who care for them. By listening to and working with families, carers and our partners we can share best practice to support safer, kinder and better care for those with dementia in every setting.”

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