Music has healing powers; anyone who’s ever felt uplifted or nostalgic after hearing a particular song knows this. The Salvation Army Carnforth has decided to tap into this magic by starting a singing initiative called ‘Singing by Heart.’ It’s a singing group comprising people with dementia and those affected by dementia, including carers.
The group gets together on the first Monday of every month at 2 pm at the church on Preston Street. Anyone with dementia or caring for people with dementia is welcome. All you need to bring is 50 pence and you can take your place in the group. Sessions are one hour long and tea and cake are provided.
You can’t beat the classics
The group’s motto is ‘A glad heart makes a cheerful face’ and this is borne out in the song selection, which includes feel-good classics, such as ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’, ‘Rock Around the Clock’, ‘Bring Me Sunshine’ and hymns such as ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ and This Little Light of Mine’.
In addition to the therapy factor, the group also provides invaluable support to carers who may feel isolated and over-burdened. It also provides a fun outing for those with dementia, who are also at risk of isolation.
Meeting a need
According to the Alzheimer’s Society, there are approximately 850,000 dementia sufferers in the UK. This estimate is expected to increase to over 1 million sufferers by 2025. Statistics like these were the inspiration behind Singing by Heart.
Commenting on the reason for the initiative, Gay Tonks, who is the leader of The Salvation Army Carnforth, said, “With the recent rise in people being diagnosed as living with dementia, we wanted to utilise our buildings and facilities to support those living with the condition and their carers.”
Tonks continued, “Dementia can be very isolating, but music can be a communication tool for everyone. It is stored in the brain and we hope our Singing by Heart sessions will give people in the local area a reason to get out of the house and meet new people”.
The Salvation Army Carnforth has a good reputation for all of the work it does for the youth in the community, so Tonks said it was time to extend their services to include the needs of the elderly.
Mondays will be particularly social days with other activities available, including Craft and Chatter and Lunch Club.
Not only does the singing group create a safe place where people with dementia can relive fond memories, but it enables carers to develop an essential support network. All participants get comfort from the realisation that they are not alone – and they have a singing good time doing it.