Dignity in Action – how music can play a part

February 1, 2021

February 1st marks Dignity Action Day – a chance for us all to think about how dignity can and should be at the heart of all care. For 2021, Music for Dementia has taken a musical interpretation of many of the Dignity Do’s.

Assist people to maintain confidence and positive self-esteem

  • In helping people to think of the music they enjoy, and enabling them to access it, you are transporting them to times gone by that have positive associations for them. These are also times where the memories of events may be clearer. Thinking of these events and being immersed in therapeutic sounds leaves people with a good feeling. It also allows others to see them for who they are beyond their dementia.

Listen and support people to express their needs and wants

  • Finding out about people’s musical preferences is very much a part of finding out about them as a person. If you can, note down their favourites which help to distract, soothe anxiety or lift mood. Make others in your team aware by noting these in the care plan.

Engage with family members and carers as care partners

  • If the person you are caring for is no longer able to communicate verbally, ask their friends and family for insights as to their former musical tastes. Sharing meaningful music with people living with dementia can prove to be a key to unlocking a window of communication. People may start to tap or move in time to the music, sing along or even get up to dance, bringing them into the here and now.

Treat each person as an individual by offering a personalised service

  • Just as we have all experienced different lives, people’s experience and taste in music differs widely. Having some favourite playlists available via an MP3 player or CD player in their own room can make all the difference to quality of life. Find out more about making playlists.

Ensure people feel able to complain without fear of retribution

  • It’s important to note that not all music is welcome and certain tunes may be a ‘red flag’, causing upset. Make sure to note these down in a care plan and take steps to avoid them in future.

Respect people’s right to privacy

  • We all have off days. Sometimes music will help and sometimes it’s not the answer. Don’t force it if today is not the right day or now is not the right moment.

Enable people to maintain the maximum possible level of independence, choice and control

  • Ask people what music they would like to listen to, involving them in the choice whether in their own rooms or in a shared day room. M4d Radio has era-specific stations that you can tune into to listen to songs from the 30s-40s, 50s, 60s and 70s or a mix of all eras.
Find out more about Dignity in Care and becoming a Dignity Champion.