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Music for Dementia 2020 (M4D2020) is a national campaign aiming to deliver music to everyone living with dementia. Working alongside the National Activities Providers Association (NAPA), they are able to support dementia support in care homes. In April 2020, following the Covid-19 outbreak, M4D2020 wanted to send the gift of music to 100 care homes around the UK. The initiative advertised a competition for care homes to win an Amazon Alexa Echo Show together with a 6-month Amazon Unlimited Music subscription.

We submitted a number of entries to the prize draw and were lucky enough to win five Alexa devices for our care homes - Anjulita Court, Beechville, Weston House, Torrwood and Warde Aldam. Our music therapists in these homes have supported with the creation of general playlists to play in the home, but also playlists that are specific to individuals that they know well. The Alexa Echo Show also has a screen that displays song information and lyrics which has proved very helpful as it can be read by staff and residents so everyone can join in! The Alexa Echo Show can be used for individual engagement and interaction but also in larger group activities and in communal areas and daily living activities such as meal times.

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MHA music therapist Ella Cross (pictured) is our music therapist at Walde Aldam, Ella said, “The Amazon Echo Shows have brought great joy to the residents, whether that’s hearing their favourite songs, dancing to rock and roll, or singing along using the words on the screen. It’s been great for our music therapists to be involved in creating individualised playlists, based on the knowledge of residents’ preferred music from group and 1:1 sessions.

"Having the Amazon Echo has also facilitated conversations with care staff and families, who are often a great source of knowledge on residents’ musical preferences. Music plays such an important role in residents’ wellbeing, and the technology we have with the Amazon Echo Shows enables recommendations from sessions to be implemented outside of music therapy sessions. This could be playing a particular song to help a resident to feel calm and relaxed, or encouraging a resident to sing along to familiar songs, which exercises important cognitive functions that are vital to wellbeing.”

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