Reg and his wife Beryl shared 70 years of happy memories together before she passed away. Reg is now using a digital compilation of sound and music called Music Mirrors to help him relive his happiest times.
Reg, 87, is a tenant at Robert Kett Court, a housing with care scheme in Norfolk.
He moved there with his wife Beryl who he cared for as she was blind. When she passed away, Reg decided to stay at Robert Kett Court where he had made some very close friends.
Staff from NorseCare, who provide care and support to tenants, use digital resources to help people at an early stage of memory loss to make an audio record of their happiest memories.
Music Mirrors is a digital compilation of sounds or music – linked to YouTube – bringing together individual words and phrases that are habitually used by a person. Each item includes a short description of the memories associated to it, written in the person’s own words.
Described as ‘memory toolkits’, Music Mirrors can be documented as an email, on paper or built on a dedicated website, where they can be saved and downloaded. Crucially, they can move with a person to a different care setting, helping new carers to get to know them.
Since creating his Music Mirror, Reg can relive some of his happiest times with Beryl.
Karen Claydon, a care and support worker at NorseCare, explains: “Reg loves to talk about Beryl and it makes him so happy to hear the songs of their life together and reminisce. He doesn’t talk about her much to other tenants because he thinks they won’t want to hear it, but his mood improves when we have a Music Mirrors session together.”
Reg’s includes country and western music and wartime songs by Vera Lynn. He still talks to his wife and the music he has chosen brings her closer to him. “It brings back some lovely memories,” he says. “I say to her before I go to bed at night, ‘did you hear them songs?’.
“When I was with my Beryl, she’d say ‘put a record on Reg’. The songs help me to make the memories clearer.”
Staff create Music Mirrors as early as possible with residents who have a dementia diagnosis and involve family members in capturing important moments, experiences and memories.
Music Mirrors help carers to build trust and learn more about a person’s life.
“We can transport them to a happy place just by chatting about their past or singing their favourite song with them,” Karen explains. “It helps them to feel safe and secure.”