Support from PICS healthcare staff in Mid Notts has been praised as a “splendid example of social prescribing in action” by the National Academy for Social Prescribing, for work with TV’s Our Dementia Choir. Mel, a member of the Choir, joined the chorus of praise saying being referred to the Choir has “helped me live my life.”
The National Academy for Social Prescribing (NASP) visited a rehearsal of the Choir to find out about the benefits of music therapy for people living with Dementia and how they can access it.
Kate Harper, PICS’ Social Prescribing Link Worker for residents in Sherwood Primary Care Network, took part to explain how her team helps people live well with their conditions by connecting them to support groups. Kate works across a network of GP Surgeries and as part of a larger team within Primary Integrated Community Services. Kate reflected: “It’s lovely to see how people coming to Our Dementia Choir have blossomed. To see that they’re smiling and chatting with others, and they’re living well with dementia.”
The video evidence is being used as part of a campaign to raise £10m for grassroots music dementia projects to ‘improve the lives of millions of people, alleviate symptoms of dementia and potentially save the NHS money.’
Nottinghamshire residents with lived experience of Dementia share the impact music and social prescribing for them, with member Mel saying “We uplift each other.” and Chris sharing “I actually start feeling better about things a day or two before one of these sessions and it goes on for a day or two afterwards. It’s quite staggering.” Emma, a daughter of member Lesley says: “Everybody is in the same boat and we can all share things with each other. People need to know about everything that’s out there.”
Karen Bonser (pictured with her dog Benjy), is Charity Manager and wife of member Mick, and encouraged people to make contact “Just go and try it. Get a Social Prescriber to signpost you to something that’s relevant to you.”
“There is more happening than the singing”, Karen explains, “Carers are talking to each other, socialising and making friendship groups. We’re not a helpline and we aren’t medical professionals, but there is nobody more aware or who has more dealings with Dementia than a group of Carers. Our support network is key. Things can happen quickly with Dementia. One day your loved one will be able to eat with a knife and fork, the next day they can’t. What do you do? You can’t keep making it up all the time. You need that professional support and guidance and a little pat on the back now and again that you are doing things right. So we work with a variety of medical professionals to be able to signpost to the right support, including Consultants, Social Prescribers, and Dietitians.”
Karen shares her positive experience of being supported: “Mick and I had a Social Prescriber assigned to us quite early doors, who signposts us to organisations who can support, whether it be Alzheimer’s Society, community activities, or free gym passes from the local council. Quite often it is simple, but you don’t know what you don’t know.
“GP surgeries have a big part to play in making sure people get access to support they need. There is a lot of physical side to dementia than people think. It’s not just ‘I’ve lost my keys, I’ve lost my phone and I don’t know what your name is.’ As people progress through the disease they find out there is more to it that they can get support with, like Speech and Language Therapists, Specialist Nurses and Occupational Therapists. That’s where referrals to support groups, Social Prescribers and specialists come in. We want to help those families who feel like they have to cope behind closed doors. We want to learn from their experiences, as well as share our music and support.”
Our Dementia Choir is a local charity founded by local star Vicky McClure, a well know actress from TV’s Line of Duty who grandmother has Dementia. Vicky produced a documentary following the growth and impact of the Choir which is broadcast on the BBC. Members come from across Mid Nottinghamshire and the wider region, and either have dementia or care for someone living with it.
Emily Cousins, National Lead for Older People at NASP, explains: “Without a medical cure for dementia, it is imperative that we focus on supporting people to ‘live well’ following a diagnosis. When a person living with dementia is referred to a link worker, this provides an opportunity for holistic, person-centred care. They can identify groups and programmes that might be of interest. For many, music can be incredibly powerful.”
Dr Radha Modgil, GP and NASP Ambassador, explains: “We all know how important it is to support people living with long term health conditions with their wellbeing. Our Dementia Choir is doing just that and is a splendid example of social prescribing in action.”
Social Prescribing is one of the many new health services available for residents in Mid Nottinghamshire from their local General Practice surgery. Find out more: New services from General Practice teams – NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire ICS – NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire ICS (healthandcarenotts.co.uk)
Find out about Our Dementia Choir: Home | Our Dementia Choir
Watch the NASP video: Our Dementia Choir – social prescribing in action – YouTube