Hi everyone, welcome to my latest blog. 

November is that time of year when we both look to the future, and reflect on the past. 

At our three lovely care homes, we always look forward to Christmas and the New Year. It’s a time of year which can mean different things to different people, of all backgrounds and faiths, but it also brings our communities together and we love to see everyone experiencing a little festive joy. We are planning a few things for our residents, as we do every year, and one of the loveliest things is to see families and friends reunited, as it is sometimes difficult for loved ones who live far away to regularly keep in touch. 

On the refection side, November also sees Guy Fawkes day and Remembrance Day. You are never too old to enjoy a magnificent firework display, and of course there is a historical lesson to be reminded of regarding the gunpowder plot of 1605. As for Remembrance Day, this is a very special time of year for many of our residents, staff and their families. There is a strong connection with the military here in the South West and many dutifully remember all those who gave their lives in times of war, so that we may live in peace. And perhaps this is a timely reminder to think of our friends in Ukraine, who we wish well as they face up to Putin’s tyranny. 

Over the next couple of months, I’d like to talk about one particular aspect of our care which sometimes gets overlooked.  Many of advancing years develop difficulties with memory, and for some, especially those experiencing dementia, this can be acute. There is one aspect of this which has really developed in recent times, and this is the link between memory and music. 

Music is a key part of many people’s lives, a universal experience. Music and memory have a powerful connection. Music can spark emotional memories, songs and sounds of the past. It might even go all the way back to early childhood and the first music we ever heard. Throughout life, music can trigger all sorts of memories, from happy days to tragic circumstances.  

Our own experiences, and those in other care home settings, have shown that music can have many benefits for those experiencing dementia. It can help reduce anxiety and depression, help maintain speech and language, enhance quality of life, as well as having a positive impact on their carers. 

There are many stories and examples where music in care homes and other institutions is extraordinarily effective at bringing people together and stimulating memories. Memorable stories of individuals who were withdrawn and apathetic but have been rekindled by listening to their favourite music. Many will be aware of the positive benefits of “Singing for the Brain”. Music can go to places other forms of communication struggle to reach, benefitting shared experience and friendships. 

So in December’s blog I’m going to explore this a little more. We have many musical events in our homes and I will tell you a little more about them next time around. But I also want to dig a little deeper and share with you how music can help one and all, including people with dementia and their families. I’ll look at the research and case studies and share thoughts and theories about why music is so important in a care home setting.

I will catch up with you just before Christmas, and also update you on some of our festive activities too. Until then, take care.