Musical Memories Choirs: Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council
The “Musical Memories” choirs are for older people and are specifically welcoming to people affected by dementia and their family carers. They are led by a professional choral director and take place weekly in community settings in the county. The concept came from the “Unforgettables” in New York and “Musical Memories” have gained extensive media attention; as a direct result other choirs based on this model are beginning to be supported across the country. The main purpose of the choirs is to give people an opportunity to come together in a relaxed environment and mix socially through music. Music and singing help to lift mood, provide cognitive stimulation and support social interaction. The choirs are open to all older people but are specifically supportive and welcoming to people affected by dementia. A team of inter-generational volunteers ensure the smooth running of both choirs – helping with coordination, refreshments, assistance, musical accompaniment and generally making people feel at ease and welcome. Volunteers are trained and Garda Vetted and are great community ambassadors for the choirs and the people they support.
The project is managed by the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council Arts Office, the HSE Health Promotion and Improvement – Dublin South East/Wicklow and the Living Well with Dementia Project – Stillorgan – Blackrock. The partnership brings together knowledge of the arts, healthcare and in particular dementia. The choirs have gained extensive media attention, featuring on ‘Morning Ireland’, three times in the Irish Times, HSE’s ‘Health Matters’, and Nationwide. “Musical Memories” also won the Chambers Local Government Awards 2014 ‘Sustaining the Arts’ category.
The choirs currently have 60 members; there are waiting lists in place. Qualitative data has been gathered by Dublin City University that indicates the importance of the choirs for its members. For example several partners have commented that, “it is the only time of the week where I feel like ‘member’s’ wife and not just his carer”.
This project is funded by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council Arts Office, the HSE – Health Promotion Service, Dublin South East/Wicklow and the Living Well with Dementia Project – Stillorgan – Blackrock. Living Well with Dementia is a community project which is jointly funded by Atlantic Philanthropies and the HSE and supported by the Genio Trust.