The ‘Soundtrack to My Life’ was the first of the musicworks three ‘Music in Care’ toolkits. It was designed for people living with dementia and other memory loss conditions.

John Osborne developed ‘Soundtrack’ following his own experience as a carer for his own father through his dementia journey. As a social care professional and musician, it wasn’t until after his father had sadly passed away that he was able to reflect on how music could have helped his journey with dementia.

Personalised music is emotional and that emotion acts as a ‘memory bridge’ which can take you back to a significant event, person, place and how you felt at that exact time.

The brain has the ability to store musical memory in complex ways. For people living with dementia this memory bridge is vital to reconnect them with memories from their life story which may otherwise be lost due to the illness.

The ‘Soundtrack to My Life’ toolkit offers people with dementia especially, a way to collate their important and significant musical life story.

The toolkit comprises of short questions to prompt the individual to think about people, places and events that may have important musical memories. There is space to record the music and most importantly, the story behind why it is important to the person.

As well as the toolkit pages, ‘The Soundtrack to My Life’ includes helpful notes to help the user, their family or carers with the process of collecting musical memories.

The musicworks ‘Music in Care’ project also promotes the use of music listening technology for people with dementia and carers. There is useful guidance on how to access and use affordable music technology from CDs, iPods and music online like YouTube, Spotify and iTunes distilled in such a way that should see novices gain confidence.

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The ‘Music in Care’ project is all about person centred engagement with music and so the toolkit also manages to include some practical ideas on how to use personalised music collection(s) as part of a person centred daily routine.

When it comes to music interventions for people with dementia, and in fact in all musicworks’ ‘Music in Care’ toolkits, the distinct strength is; ‘Soundtrack’ offers more than a one off activity. Both the process of creating a ‘Soundtrack’ and music listening are equally important. It offers meaningful occupation, strengthens identity and is portable, travelling with the person through their dementia journey. It is a proven way to bring a person centred approach to music choice and selection to routine day activities, reminiscence groups, singing, choirs, dance, exercise and beyond.

‘Soundtrack to My Life’ toolkits cost just £10 and includes free electronic storage of any toolkit that has been completed as an insurance against loss or damage. This means that any ‘Soundtrack’ can be recreated for an individual or their relative should they need a replacement.

Training workshops are available for health and social care professionals and carers to learn more about ‘Music in Care’ and how to use ‘Soundtrack’ toolkits. For more information about training please visit JoCo Learning & Development’s website here
by Kate Williams on 10th February 2015.