Case Study

Dementia Disco

Dementia Disco uses music and dance to boost mood and offers a ‘proper night out

At Stockport-based Dementia Disco, members can choose the music they want to listen to.  Music is a way for guests to access memories and the members can talk about their choices with its volunteers, other people with dementia, their families and carers.

Dementia Disco also encourages members to get up and dance if they want to. This can provide carers with a short break or, more typically, the opportunity to spend some relaxed and fun time on the dancefloor, which some of them don’t often get. The discos are always incredibly positive, happy events, and for some, it’s the highlight of their month.

The choice of venue and timing of the discos (5pm to 7pm) are deliberate. People have told Dementia Disco it feels like they’ve had a ‘proper night out’ when they go. The music acts as a gateway to memories of positive experiences and memories of past events, which members are encouraged to talk about and share.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, members enjoyed a coach trip to the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool, which was a wonderful opportunity for many of them to get outdoors and visit a place some of them had not been to for many years.  They had a fantastic time dancing on the Strictly dancefloor!

The power of music is a vehicle which allows people to connect with themselves and others. It enables Dementia Disco members to interact and engage with others in positive ways, allowing the volunteers to access memories and emotions that members sometimes find it hard to express. Research shows that brain activity and memory are enhanced by listening to music. The direct, emotional connection music can make with people is equally important.

Dementia Disco has found it easy enough to harness community spirit and enterprise.  If more people simply asked and acted, they believe so much more could be done. They say ‘it’s not about being a good citizen, more about being an active citizen – for your own benefit and for others’.

Dementia Disco were chosen to appear within our recent Power of Music report, which you can read about here