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Music’s power to ‘unlock memories and emotions’ helps in dementia treatment, survey suggests | UK News

The power of music to treat dementia has been further reinforced by a new survey.

In a collaboration between the charity Music for Dementia and the keyboard manufacturer Casio, more than 100 dementia patients were enrolled in six months of musical therapy.

Care homes were sent specialised keyboards that allowed residents to play along to their favourite songs in the presence of a musical therapist.

At the end of the six-month period, 79% of musical therapists reported their patients showed improved memory and recall, and more than 70% saw reductions in anxiety and depression.

The survey builds on a number of recent scientific studies, such as one published in the Lancet earlier this year.

It found that music had a clinically significant impact on reducing depression and other symptoms in care home residents suffering from dementia.

There are several reasons music may be an effective method of treatment.

Clare Barone, musical therapy lead at Methodist Homes, said: “From a therapeutic perspective, music can touch emotions, unlock memories, and the two go hand-in-hand really.

“So positive memories can just bring somebody alive, reminiscence, positive wellbeing, the engagement in something, a meaningful activity – like we saw with Jill – playing the keyboard actually brought back memories of her children and playing in the past and the importance of that song for her.”

Jill is an 82-year-old resident living with moderate-stage mixed dementia.

Over the course of her treatment, she saw a marked cognitive improvement, going from being able to recognise and whistle along to a familiar melody, to playing parts of it with the keyboard’s assistive technology.

During a demonstration for Sky News, Jill played much of the piece before admitting with a wry smile: “I don’t know how the hell I did that.”

Grace Meadows, campaign director at Music for Dementia, said: It’s innovative, creative initiatives like this which demonstrate how easy it can be for carers to make music a part of good dementia care.

“We would like to see this programme rolled out nationwide as a way of supporting carers to provide the best possible personalised care for those living with dementia.”

In April, Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries backed a plan to create a “power of music commissioner” to promote the benefits of music in a variety of healthcare settings.

The political will, it appears, is there, if it can survive the imminent arrival of another new Conservative administration.

Archie Battersbee set to have treatment withdrawn on Monday after life support battle | UK News

Archie Battersbee, who is on life support, is set to have treatment withdrawn at 2pm on Monday unless the government complies with an injunction from the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Barts Health NHS Trust, which is treating the 12-year-old, said in a letter to his parents that “no supplemental oxygen will be given” after the endotracheal tube of the mechanical ventilator is removed.

Archie has relied on the machine to breathe since being admitted to hospital on 7 April after being found unconscious at home by his mother.

“The time it takes for the heart to stop beating is often a matter of minutes, but in some cases, this can take longer,” the letter continued.

“A doctor will assess Archie regularly to confirm that the heart has stopped beating but with consideration of the family’s need not to have too much intrusion at such a difficult time.”

Archie’s parents Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee will be told on Monday morning how the withdrawal process is to be performed, with the aim to “preserve Archie’s dignity”, the letter read.

It went on: “You or any of the family may wish to lie on Archie’s bed with him or have him in your arms, if that should be practically possible.”

More on Archie Battersbee

A High Court judge had ruled that ending treatment is in Archie’s best interests, after reviewing evidence from clinicians and said the boy’s prognosis was “bleak”.

The family says doctors should give Archie a chance to recover and have made an application to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, citing Articles 10 and 12 of the Convention (UNCRPD) which call on nations to ensure the right to life and equal rights for disabled people.

In a letter to Ms Dance and her barrister Mr Bruno Quintavalle, the committee writes it has “requested the state party [the UK] to refrain from withdrawing life-preserving medical treatment, including medical ventilation and artificial nutrition and hydration from the alleged victim while the case is under consideration by the committee”.

Read more:
Archie Battersbee’s mother appeals for help from health secretary
Supreme Court refuses to intervene in life-support battle for brain-damaged boy

Archie's parents Paul Battersbee and Hollie Dance
Archie’s parents Paul Battersbee and Hollie Dance

On Saturday the government told Sky News it has received correspondence from the UN which it is carefully considering.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We recognise this is an exceptionally difficult time for Archie Battersbee’s family and our thoughts are with them.

“We have received the letter and will respond in due course.”

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Archie’s mother makes plea

Ms Dance told Sky News she is waiting anxiously for the British government to comply with the UN request.

Barts Health NHS Trust said delaying the start of palliative care would “not be appropriate without an order of the court.”

The family said the assertions were misleading, adding: “We as a family are very disappointed that the Trust’s management has chosen to hide behind euphemisms and to mislead the public.

“It is hard to see any reason for that behaviour except knowing that what they are doing is cruel and wrong.”