Maltby's dementia friendly choir provides joy and friendship
published on 7 Sep 2023
A monthly choir is providing joy and friendship to people with dementia and their carers at Maltby Salvation Army.
The Lost Chord UK singalong is led by a professional musician who chooses a variety of songs from pop hits and musicals to encourage people to sing, dance and forget the world outside.
Taking place every third Monday at the church and charity in Morrell Street, as well as at other venues across South Yorkshire, it also gives church leader Major Lucy Mann the opportunity to build relationships in the community.
Lucy said: “The aim for the sessions is for people to enjoy them, forget about the world outside and have a good singalong. It’s a lot of fun, there’s dancing, laughter as well lunch and hot drinks. For that hour and half it’s a break from the seriousness of life.
“We have grown up children bringing their parents and neighbours bringing friends. Once you’re in the room and taking part, you don’t know who has dementia and who doesn’t, which allows people to just be themselves. Some people have come who are just interested in a singalong as a community activity.”
The choir has also encouraged people to come through the doors of The Salvation Army for other events, including The Bridge Community Café - their coffee mornings each Tuesday and Wednesday - as well as Sunday worship, while members of the congregation have been volunteering with the group.
Stephen, 75, brings his wife who has Alzheimer’s to the weekly singalong. Stephen said: “She enjoys it and I enjoy it. I like to get up and dance. You meet people and other carers as well, so you get conversation, a bit of a break and we have a bit of fun playing the tambourines and maracas. It helps my wife as well, she doesn’t remember much but she enjoys it while she is here. It’s a good thing and I’m glad people come along and join in.”
Another member, Sandra, 71, said: “I like meeting people, they are so friendly. I like to get involved in dancing and singing to try and get other people to enjoy themselves as well.”
Lost Chord UK is a national charity, which started in South Yorkshire 25 years ago, running singing sessions in care homes, but since the pandemic has expanded and now works in a variety of community settings. They also run groups for children, people who are bereaved or suffering with illness or who are isolated. Sessions are free to attend, and are paid for through a mix of grants and donations.
Sally Glennon, a musician who facilitates the sessions at Maltby Salvation Army and a trustee of Lost Chord UK, said: “We see a real difference from when people walk in to start a session to when they walk out at the end. They are lifted, their body language is different, their posture has changed and they are smiling and laughing.
“I get requests and I do themes, for example Eurovision songs, songs with colours in the title or different seasons. It helps trigger memories.
“We have people who come in who have been non-verbal, but in a matter of minutes, something will click and they will start singing. For family members to hear their voices again, to have even a few minutes of contact and chat, it’s wonderful to witness.”