Home Activities Music for Dementia celebrates people on the frontline of dementia care on World Alzheimer’s Day

Music for Dementia celebrates people on the frontline of dementia care on World Alzheimer’s Day

by Lisa Carr

Last night, Thursday 21 September 2023, the Music for Dementia campaign hosted a special performance at London’s Arcola Theatre of the acclaimed dementia themed love story, In Other Words, which was attended by prominent names in the world of dementia care and music therapy.

The private event, which marked World Alzheimer’s Day, saw changemakers such as CEO of Nordoff Robbins Sandra Schembri, Director of Music as Therapy International Alexia Quin, Parliamentary and Research Manager from UK Music Hannah McLennan and CEO of NASP Charlotte Osborn-Forde, gather together in recognition of the power of music in dementia care. They were joined by director Nick Moran, a supporter for Music for Dementia following his mum’s diagnosis.

The play, In Other Words, is a love story about one couple’s relationship across decades from playwright and actor Matthew Seager. It explores how music can be used to help reconnect people living with dementia to their loved ones.

Sarah Metcalfe, Managing Director of Music for Dementia said: “We gave a grant to bring In Other Words back to the stage because it powerfully communicates what life is like for families affected by dementia, and how music can become a lifeline in the most difficult of times. Watching it on World Alzheimer’s Day, with such an incredible audience of people from the frontline of music and care, musicians and family members was emotional and inspiring. We need to do much more as a society to support carers, and music has an important part to play.”

The special World Alzheimer’s Day performance was followed by an on-stage discussion hosted by Music for Dementia’s Sarah Metcalfe and playwright Matthew Seager. All guests were then invited to a drinks reception and given gift bags with items donated by The Biskery, Cheeky Panda and Nursem.

Earlier this week it was announced that In Other Words has been nominated for four Offies, the prestigious awards that recognise the best Off West End productions, including nominations for both Matthew Seager and Lianne Harvey for the Lead Performance in a Play category.

In Other Words was first performed in 2017. It has been brought back to stage throughout September (World Alzheimer’s Month) by The Utley Foundation’s Music for Dementiacampaign to help spread awareness about the power of music in dementia care. To date Music for Dementia has invested over £5 million in grants to over 150 different charities and initiatives, the latest of which is In Other Words. To help the play reach a wider audience Music for Dementia is hosting a digital version of the play on its website www.musicfordementia.org.uk until the end of November.

Matthew wrote In Other Words when, as a young 20 year-old drama student, he experienced a life changing moment during a sensory stimulation workshop he facilitated in a care home as part of his university course. He played Frank Sinatra’s ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ at the end of the session and was ‘floored’ when the room came alive.

Commenting on the play Matthew said:“It’s been an honour to perform In Other Words on World Alzheimer’s Day to an audience filled of people working in the thick of dementia care and music therapy. They know better than most what impact dementia can have on individuals and their carers, and how music can become a lifeline in certain situations.”

Sue Hinds, Head of Services at Dementia Carers Count said:

“This play beautifully portrays the experiences of a couple affected by dementia. It shows the progression of the disease and a whole range of practical, physical and emotional challenges that the couple have to face. We see how much dementia can strain even the most loving relationship and the toll it takes on the resilience of the two of them. The performance allows the audience to share in these complex and ever-changing emotions and illustrates the sheer exhaustion that a person with dementia and their carer can experience in coping with the daily challenges.”

Trevor Salomon cares for his wife Yvonne who now lives in a care home. He is also Vice-Chairperson of the European Dementia Carers Working Group and Chair to Dementia Carers Count Advisory Panel. He said:

“I found the play sad yet realistic. The portrayal of the patient (the husband) was brutally accurate and I recognised so much of my wife in his reactions, actions and behaviours. I also saw a lot of myself in the carer (the wife) who, despite the stress and challenges she faced, was able to gradually put herself in her husband’s world to care for and provide for him as best she could. The play sums up so many years of exhausting relationship changes in just over an hour.”

Last year, Music for Dementia published the Power of Music report with UK Music, in consultation with over 200 organisations and individuals. The report laid out a framework for government to integrate music across health and social care. Now we are supporting the National Academy of Social Prescribing with a contribution of £1million for local grant-making, to launch the Power of Music Fund this autumn.

L-R Actors: Liane Harvey, Matthew Seager with MD at Music for Dementia, Sarah Metcalfe.

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