• Date awarded: May 2023
  • Awarded value: £9,000
  • Fund: COVID-19 Donation
  • Location: Across NHS Fife
NHS Fife Playlist for Life Staff Achievement Celebration April 2023, Glenrothes Hospital.

Fife Health Charity funded the purchase of essential audio equipment and information leaflets to implement Playlist for Life in NHS Fife hospital ward and local community settings, enabling patients with dementia to listen to and benefit from enjoying personalised music. 

Research into the care of patients with dementia has shown that listening to music which evokes memories can help reduce levels of agitation, improve mood and boost general positive wellbeing. This in turn can support better experience of staying in hospital and, in some case, aid a quicker discharge into a community care setting. Using personalised music has been found to help reduce stress and distressed behaviour, provide meaningful therapeutic activity and help build positive relationships between patients, staff and family members. Using MP3 devices and personalised music supports stimulation for patients and provides distraction from busy stressful environments.

The use of personalised music featuring the approach of Playlist for Life, is a non-pharmacological strategy that is used to provide stimulation, meaningful occupation and support the management of stress and distressed behaviour in patients with dementia in NHS Fife ward settings. Using music that is personal and full of meaning to the patient can stimulate fond memories and positive emotional reactions.

The collaboration between NHS Fife and the Playlist for Life charity dates back to a 2017 research study into the use of personally meaningful music in a hospital ward setting, which took place at Queen Margaret Hospital in Dunfermline. Helen Skinner, NHS Fife’s Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Nurse Consultant, also undertook a research study at Stratheden Hospital in Cupar, exploring the use of personalised music playlists to reduce agitation in people with moderate to severe dementia and assessing the possibility of introducing their use within a specialist mental health ward setting.

As a result of the positive effect of using personalised music demonstrated in the research studies, NHS Fife invested in training accredited by Playlist for Life for wards caring for patients with dementia. Following successful completion of the Playlist for Life ‘Train the trainer’ programme, NHS Fife has been able to deliver in-house training to further community and mental health hospital wards on an on-going basis, ensuring that even more people with dementia experiencing stress and distressed behaviour can benefit from Playlist for Life.

The Difference our Funding is Making

Currently eleven wards in NHS Fife have completed the Playlist for Life accredited training and are supporting the delivery of Playlist for Life to patients with dementia in community hospital wards and specialist mental health wards in Queen Margaret Hospital, Dunfermline, St Andrews Community Hospital, Cameron Hospital, Leven, Stratheden Hospital, Cupar and Glenrothes Hospital.

Fife Health Charity’s most recent support has enabled the purchase of MP3 devices, over ear and wireless Bluetooth headphones, mini speakers, cables and Playlist for Life information leaflets. The benefits of the charity’s support have also extended beyond ward settings and out into the wider local community.

The longer length of stay for patients admitted to community hospital settings and specialist mental health settings lends itself to the Playlist for Life methodology where the ward team can work with patients, families and carers to identify personally meaningful music to purchase and download to an MP3 music device for on-demand playing, listening and enjoyment.

As Helen Skinner reports, staff not only report the positive impact for patients and family members and carers, but also share experiences of how it helps them build therapeutic relationships. “We are now using personalised music in several wards across NHS Fife and regularly witness the improved wellbeing of patients as a result. The funding from Fife Health Charity is assuring the continued use of Playlist for Life with even more patients, and will allow staff in further wards to be trained to enable them to deliver person centred care through the use of personalised music.

“We have also recently trained an Older Adult Community Mental Health Team in the delivery of Playlist for Life,” continues Helen. “The team will operate slightly differently than within a ward setting, whereby they might support a person with dementia or their family to create a personalised playlist of music using their own technology, streaming services or devices. Alternatively, if the person doesn’t have access to such equipment or services, the Community Mental Health Team has been trained to do this for them.”

The long term commitment to Playlist for Life by NHS Fife dementia specialists was recognised in April 2023. The celebration of staff achievement and drive to improve care of people with dementia in hospital, especially during the challenges of COVID-19 and lockdown, was held in the Staff Wellbeing Hub at Glenrothes Hospital, and celebrated Elmview Ward, Stratheden Hospital, Cupar, Wards 1 & 2, Glenrothes Hospital and Letham Ward, Cameron Hospital, Leven.

If you would like to support Fife Health Charity’s work with Playlist for Life and help bring its many benefits to more people, carers and families in Fife experiencing dementia, you can make a donation. To find out more, please visit Support the charity | Fife Health Charity (nhsfife.org)

Together we can do amazing things!

“Those final weeks were filled with fun and laughter. Many a sing song was had in the ward, often with the rest of the ward joining in. Dementia is a harrowing condition for anyone to experience, so to have the power of music to influence my father's mood in such a positive manner was of great solace at his time of need.” Family Carer