Music & Memory UK is a charity that brings personalised music into the lives of older people living with cognitive impairment through digital music technology, vastly improving quality of life.
We train nursing home staff and other health and care professionals, as well as family caregivers, in how to create and provide personalised playlists using MP3 players that enable those struggling with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other cognitive and physical challenges to reconnect with the world through music-triggered memories.
By providing access and education, and by creating a network of Music & Memory Certified Care Organisations, we aim to make this form of personalised therapeutic music a standard of care throughout the world.
How Music & Memory began
Executive Director Dan Cohen founded Music & Memory in the USA with a simple idea: Someday, if he ended up in a nursing home, he wanted to be able to listen to his favourite ‘60s music. He’d heard a recent news report about how iPods have grown so popular. Why not bring used iPods as well as new ones into nursing homes to provide personalised music for residents?
When Dan had this vision in 2006, he discovered that none of the 16,000 long-term care homes in the U.S. used iPods for their residents. Drawing on his background in leveraging technology to benefit those who would otherwise have no access, he volunteered at a local nursing home in Greater New York, creating personalised playlists for residents. The programme was a hit with residents, staff and families, and became the prototype for a bigger effort.
A donation from the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation in 2008 Dan brought 200 iPods to residents of four New York long-term care homes and tested the programme on a larger scale in 2008. Successful outcomes made about our work, called Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory. The film previewed in New York City. A short video clip was was posted to Youtube of one of the residents called Henry, who was reawakened by listening to his favorite music. Henry’s video went viral, now with more than 11 million views, and was featured on the BBC Russell Howard Good News show, further boosting awareness and enthusiasm for our programme.
As word of the benefits of personalised music spread, in 2013 and 2014 not only have individual care facilities worked towards and attained certification, but also entire US states and all of Toronto, Canada have implemented the programme. The UK, Australia, the Netherlands, Israel and Germany are seeing a rapid uptake of Music & Memory. We are broadening our approach to serve individuals in hospice care, adult day care, assisted living, hospital and community intermediate, nursing and domiciliary care.