How is a dementia-friendly choir different to other choirs?

Good Life Chorus is a dementia-friendly community choir, which means that while probably the majority of our members will not have a dementia diagnosis, our special focus is to involve, include and support people in the community who are living with dementia, and their carers. So how is a dementia-friendly community choir different from other choirs?

  1. To begin with, when and where rehearsals are held. Good Life Chorus is being held during the day, and the venue, which is the West Ryde Community Centre, has been chosen because it is a modern building with good mobility access, and it is close to good car parking and a train station.
  2. The music. People living with dementia find it more difficult to learn new repertoire, so the focus will be on singing songs which are already known or familiar. Much of the repertoire will be from the 1950s and 1960s, or traditional music such as Christmas carols (in the lead-up to Christmas), folk songs or spirituals. There will be some part singing, but this will be well-supported and fairly informal, and not in specific voice parts such as Soprano, Bass etc.
  3. An important part of being dementia-friendly is to give people the time to orientate themselves and not feel rushed. So the pace of rehearsals will aim to be relaxed and friendly, with songs being sung more than once in a rehearsal.
  4. It matters that people with dementia are valued as people, so membership of the choir is the same for every singer and the opinions and feedback of the people with dementia is every bit as important as the opinions and feedback of other members.
  5. Support for carers. Good Life Chorus is as much about supporting the carers as it is about support people with dementia. It is important for health and safety reasons that our members with dementia are supported by a carer at each rehearsal, but the choir as a whole will be aiming to support the carers as well, whether or not they sing too.
  6. Social networking. Part of having a more relaxed pacing will be creating time for everyone in the choir to get to know each other.
  7. The goal is to have fun. Singing together makes people feel good, it eases pain and is a great way of improving people’s sense of well-being.