Patients on Cardiff and Vale UHB’s Mental Health Services for Older People wards will soon be brought the joy of song by the Forget-me-not Chorus thanks to funds made available by the Cardiff & Vale Health Charity.

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The Forget-me-not Chorus is a charity based in Cardiff which supports people living with dementia, their families, and their carers through singing workshops that it hosts on a weekly basis.

As part of the health board’s activities around Alzheimer’s Awareness Month as well as its ongoing creative arts programme to improve patient experience, a 10-session pilot with the Forget-me-not Chorus has been agreed and will start on the 10th of October, World Mental Health Day.

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Expert choir leaders will engage the patients in song alongside their families, carers and members of staff, who will all be encouraged to join in and experience the joy of singing.

Research has shown that music, especially singing, is a powerful asset that can be used in dementia care to improve patients’ mood and wellbeing. It can help reduce anxiety and depression, support the patients with their speech and language, and enhance their quality of life. There is evidence from scientific studies that listening to music lights up the brain in many places, reaching the parts that others can’t.

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A 2018 study found that music actually has the ability to increase brain cell connectivity in patients living with dementia. They found brain activity increased in those areas of the brain which are affected by music temporarily, with greater connectivity between brain areas.

Kate Woolveridge of the Forget-me-not Chorus says “Often you hear people saying how lovely it is when people with dementia sing old songs and their memories come back. This is not what we are about. The sessions are about interaction and engagement, using song as a way to communicate. It is are not about remembering but making new memories.”

Simone Joslyn, Head of Arts and Health Charity at Cardiff and Vale UHB, is excited about the upcoming partnership between the Health Board and the Forget-me-not Chorus, saying, “The potential benefits that these sessions have for our patients living with dementia are immeasurable. I’ve been lucky enough to have seen performances by the Forget-me-not Chorus in the past and I’m sure that anyone who has would join me in saying that not only are they incredibly moving, but also to see the difference in the choristers is incredible.

“To improve the experiences of the health board’s patients and staff has always been the priority for the Cardiff & Vale Health Charity and it is becoming increasingly clear that the creative arts are a fantastic way to achieve this in many different contexts, including dementia care. I’m very much looking forward to hearing the chorus’ first performance in a few weeks’ time.”

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