A hospice has launched an innovative project which aims to bring the “spark” back to those with dementia.

Pendleside Hospice in Reedley has launched its new Dementia Music Café in collaboration with the Manchester Camerata, a British chamber orchestra based in Manchester.

This project is free of charge and is designed to bring music therapy to service users and their families, living with dementia. Studies suggest music can trigger memories and benefit people with dementia.

The hospice is looking for volunteers, with musical abilities, to keep the project going.

Every other Wednesday, a music therapist from the Manchester Camerata, hospice staff, and volunteers, will gather together, to play instruments and create an atmosphere of excitement and harmony in the room.

Music therapy has been shown to have remarkable benefits for people living with dementia. It can unlock memories, reduce anxiety, and improve overall well-being.

The Manchester Camerata, often referred to as "Britain’s most adventurous orchestra," has extensive experience in community engagement and music therapy.

Their work has demonstrated how music can significantly enhance the quality of life for individuals with dementia, making this collaboration especially meaningful.

The Music Café provided by the Hospice is offered to those who already attend our day service groups and will continue to run until Autumn this year.

This is with a special thanks to an arts fund made available to Pendleside from The Ruth Sutton Trust for Music.

The Ruth Sutton Trust was established to enhance, promote, and cultivate an appreciation of the art and science of music for individuals living within a 30-mile radius of Foulridge.

Following a proposal from our team, they were thrilled to be awarded a bursary to fund a 10-week Music Café program.

Health, wellbeing and rehabilitation manager at Pendleside Hospice, Julia O’Neill, reflected on the impact of the sessions so far.

She said: "It has been a beautiful experience to witness the positive impact on everyone involved and the engagement has been fantastic.

"Each session leaves a lasting impression on those who attend, with families often commenting that they feel a bit of the spark has returned to their loved ones.

“Working with the Manchester Camerata has been amazing. The therapist excels at improvising and responding to the cues from our service users to maximise their participation.

"In addition to the therapist, the Camerata brings a group of 'fellows' who assist and play musical instruments.

“To keep the sessions going and ensure the sustainability of our Music Café, we are seeking music champions to join Pendleside on a voluntary basis.

"If you live locally and can play a musical instrument, we would love to hear from you. A recent social media plea brought forward some wonderful volunteers, but we always welcome more!"

Lisa Clarke, a volunteer coordinator, has joined the sessions with her mum, Janet, and dad, David, who is diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

Lisa shared how much the Music Café has meant to her family.

She said: "It is incredible to see Dad come to life during these sessions. He has always had a passion for music and was constantly singing and whistling.

"Whenever Mum lost him in the supermarket, she would simply follow the sound of his whistle!

"Watching my dad respond to the music, tapping his feet, clapping his hands, laughing, and smiling is an absolute joy. Due to his Alzheimer's, he struggles to form sentences and his verbal communication is very limited.

"Yet, at the end of last week's session, he stood up and clearly said, 'Thank you, everyone, that was wonderful!' Seeing the look on my mum's face was priceless. You have no idea what a difference that hour on a Wednesday has made."

Janet added: "Participating in the Music Café with David has been a wonderful experience for both of us. It's hard to say for certain if it's the sole reason, but David seems noticeably happier overall.

"His mood has definitely improved since we started attending, and I truly believe it's benefiting him. I only wish it were more frequent – I would bring him every day if I could!

“We remain committed to providing compassionate care and support to the Burnley and Pendle community and are thrilled to add the Dementia Music Café to their range of services, bringing joy and comfort to those who need it most.

“This year, we also welcomed Admiral Nurse Rachel Moroney to our ever-expanding team. Rachel offers personalised care to patients and families living with dementia who are part of the Hospice community.

“Additionally, we host two monthly support groups, giving carers the opportunity to receive both emotional and practical support from the hospice team and to connect with others in similar situations.”

If you wish to learn more about the dementia support services offered at Pendleside, or to get involved as a music champion, please contact the Hospice on 01282 440 100.