Memories inspire young onset dementia service users’ music and art
- People with young onset dementia and their carers came together to make music and art
- Portraits of a Place, received funding from The University of Manchester as a unique arts and science collaboration
- Aim is to use the learning from pilot project to develop similar activity with others who have young onset dementia
People with young onset dementia and their carers came together to provide a moving musical and artistic performance that concluded a series of weekly sessions.
Service users from Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust’s Young Onset Dementia Service teamed up with an artist, composer and musician from Manchester Camerata to work on songs and artwork in weekly sessions held throughout July and August.
The project, Portraits of a Place, received funding from The University of Manchester as a unique arts and science collaboration. The aim is to use the learning from this pilot project to develop similar activity with others who have young onset dementia locally, regionally and nationally.
The resulting pieces based on the themes of identity, belonging and living in the community were performed for those assembled and included four songs written by the group themselves during the sessions and artwork in the form of sketches, collages, booklets that formed the starting point for music making and informed the lyrical content of the songs.
Mel Brown, Team Manager of the Trust’s Young Onset Dementia Service praised the service users for their enthusiasm in the project: “This has been a groundbreaking project and we’re all proud of their hard work. The artwork, songs and performance were fantastic. People with dementia often find an increasing sense of isolation from relatives and their wider community. In addition, younger people with dementia are a group sometimes overlooked by researchers and clinicians. I look forward to reading the research of this project.”
This has been an incredibly positive experience for everyone involved. Each week the group has inspired each other, the staff and the team with their creativity, elegance and beauty.
The project brought together Manchester Camerata, one of the UK’s leading chamber orchestras, the Dementia and Ageing Research team in the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work (SNMS) and the Trust’s Young Onset Dementia Team.
Lucy Geddes, Learning Officer from Manchester Camerata, who lead the project said: “This has been an incredibly positive experience for everyone involved. Each week the group has inspired each other, the staff and the team with their creativity, elegance and beauty. Their connection with the project themes has generated fantastically creative, emotional and fun song-writing and their transformation from service user to artist has been a privilege to be part of.”
“We’re very proud to have been able to collaborate further with our colleagues at The University of Manchester’s School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work and really look forward to reading the report,” added Lucy. “The film of this project will be shown at Manchester Camerata’s season opening concert at The Bridgewater Hall on the 26 September so that the audience can also see a small part of the amazing group.”
The finished work will be shared with friends and family and subsequently throughout Manchester and beyond. The project journey was documented on film and will be disseminated to raise awareness. The impact and experience of participants will be evaluated by the Dementia and Ageing Research Team in the SNMS.
The team has experience of working alongside the Camerata and the project will be completed, and evaluated, over a period of 12 months from commencement.
The musicians, clinicians and people with dementia who will deliver this project will directly share this experience with undergraduate and postgraduate students at the SNMS (including those attending the MSc in Dementia Care) through their input into the curricula and through a standalone seminar for the wider University.