This week on the SLIC blog Michelle Armstrong-Surgenor, Executive Director of Playlist for Life talks about how libraries can help people with dementia discover the soundtrack of their lives. The Scottish Library and Information Council is a Playlist for Life partner, with 170 Scottish libraries so far signing up to be Help Points.
A person’s favourite books from throughout their life can reveal a lot about their passions, identity and culture. Music is a similarly personal medium, with special songs from our lives forming the ‘soundtrack’ to our life.
At Playlist for Life we’re passionate about supporting people to live well with dementia through the power of personally meaningful music. We want everyone living with dementia to have their own personalised playlist to improve their wellbeing, and for everyone who loves and cares for them to know how to use this playlist effectively. Thanks to our partnership with SLIC, over a third of libraries in Scotland are now helping us to achieve this mission, and we would love for every library in Scotland to benefit from our free resources to help those affected by dementia in their community.
Personalised playlists are an effective and accessible tool for anyone living with dementia, helping to ease anxiety, strengthen relationships with families and carers and can even reduce medication in some instances. A personalised playlist tells the story of someone’s life through music and is a proven non-pharmacological intervention that can benefit the person living with dementia and those who love and care for them.
There are an estimated 90,000 people living with dementia in Scotland with around 60% living at home. The Playlist for Life Help Point network was set up in 2017 to reach these often-isolated individuals and their families, as well as families who have loved ones in care homes, by partnering with community organisations offering free information and services in their communities.
Libraries are an integral part of the network, being at the heart of communities and accessible to all. We offer libraries who join our Help Point network free printed and digital resources, plus training for staff and volunteers to help you bring the benefits of personalised music to the people who need it most.
Nicola Byfield from Glasgow Life had this to say about joining the Help Point network: “There are many benefits of having Help Points within our venues. It allows us as staff to have a better understanding of the positive impact that music can have for everyone but especially those living with dementia. It allows us to offer support to create playlists for often some of the most vulnerable people living within our communities. Our Glasgow Libraries lie within the heart of every community so this allows us to ensure that there are no barriers to access and that our customers and communities can access materials and support when they require it.”
Our first library Help Point, Moray Libraries, signed up back in 2017 and have been actively displaying our resources and championing Playlist for Life ever since. In June 2021, Orkney Library and Archive became the 1000th Help Point in our UK-wide network. Orkney are working in partnership with Age Scotland Orkney to distribute Playlist for Life’s materials to people living with dementia in the community.
Libraries throughout the country have been promoting Playlist for Life in various ways that fit with existing services and capacity, and around the challenges of coronavirus. From running drop-in information sessions, as North Lanarkshire Libraries have been doing at their venues, to displaying Playlist for Life’s free materials (available in 12 languages), libraries provide the perfect point to share information and materials with people affected by dementia.
And it’s not only the person living with dementia that can benefit from a personalised playlist. Staff at The Library at The Bridge, Easterhouse report the importance of the library being a Help Point “because often carers can feel very isolated. Our events and day to day contact offer them opportunities to use music as a social contact tool.”
With almost 2,000 community organisations around the UK now signed up as Playlist for Life Help Points, it’s an exciting time to join our growing network and become part of a mission to improve the lives of people affected by dementia through the incredible power of personally meaningful music.