Researchers led by music psychologist Dr Gianna Cassidy have received funding of £80,000 from the Gordon and Ena Baxter Foundation and the Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation, which aims to improve the physical and mental health of the people of Scotland through grants to support projects and initiatives not normally funded by the health service.
There are 84,000 dementia sufferers in Scotland, with over 63 per cent of those living at home.
Dr Cassidy suggests that personalised music is a powerful, yet untapped tool for patient and carer wellbeing in dementia.
She will work with Playlist for Life, founded by GCU Honorary Graduate Dr Sally Magnusson in 2013 after observing the effect of personalised music on her mother, to design a unique personal playlist intervention and an innovative app.
This will be trialled in memory clinics and through patient groups in Edinburgh and the Lothians to evaluate the impact of the intervention on the social, emotional and cognitive wellbeing of the patients and carers looking after them. Professor John Starr, Director of the Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Research Centre and adviser to Playlist for Life, and Helen Mason, Senior Lecture in Health Economics at GCU’s Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health, will assist with the evaluation.
Following the research, an advanced prototype app is expected to be ready in the spring of 2016.
Dr Cassidy said: “This post-diagnosis app will be informed by robust research evidencing impact on patient and carer wellbeing. Although this intervention will be developed and piloted with Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation, it will also host online training for healthcare professionals and Playlist for Families videos from Playlist for Life, bringing the collaboration and its impact to the wider world.”
Jane Ferguson, Director for the Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation, said: “The Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation were delighted to be able to take the concept for Playlist for Life to the next level through a significant grant towards Dr Cassidy’s work.
“Having previously funded the training of a number of NHS Lothian nursing staff in developing playlists with their patients and their carers, we saw the potential of using personalised music to stimulate memory in a broad setting and using the latest technology.
“The Health Foundation is committed to supporting the therapeutic use of the arts to improve people’s health and wellbeing, and Playlist for Life is a remarkable demonstration of the power of music to do just that.”