The personalised playlist program Music & Memory is designed to improve quality of life for people with dementia, and more generally for people who are in pain, depressed or isolated. It will be introduced to 21 health services across NSW including aged care facilities and acute health services.

Already in use in the USA and Canada, Music & Memory was trialed in two locations in NSW over the past six months.

These trials and a number of additional medical trials overseas have demonstrated the benefit of music therapy for people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Pieces of music from a person’s young adult years – between the ages of 18 and 25 – are most likely to provide the strongest emotional triggers and consequently the greatest potential for engagement with patients.


Patients who are unable to communicate through speech and appear to have forgotten even their loved ones are able to connect through music, which often triggers memories otherwise buried.

Featuring personalised playlists designed to rekindle fading memories, Music & Memoryhelps individuals living with chronic cognitive and physical impairments reconnect with family, friends and caregivers.

An initiative of the NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation (ACI) and the Arts Health Institute (AHI), the project – which featured on the ABC television program Catalyst earlier in the year – was a joint winner of the NSW Health in the Arts start-up grant in November 2015.

While that grant funded the introduction of Music & Memory in two locations, the NSW Government has since invested further funding to support an additional 19 sites, bringing the total to 21 – of which 10 are in metropolitan areas, with the remaining 11 being rural and regional sites.

‘I was blown away after watching the presentation for the Music & Memory program. I’ve seen videos of patients with dementia who were totally withdrawn, become energised, getting up and dancing and singing. These results are fantastic,’ said NSW Minister for Health, Jillian Skinner.

‘I’m thrilled that after the initial grant we provided, we were able to fund 21 locations for this remarkable program.’

Arts Health Institute CEO Dr Maggie Haertsch said: ‘Music & Memory helps create connections with people. It is a powerful way for family and friends to share music together, to remember stories and experiences. It also has an important benefit for people with complex health needs, living with pain and mental illness.’

‘Introducing this program into public health services across NSW is such a great opportunity for the people who will benefit enormously from accessing this care.’

The Arts Health Institute holds the exclusive license in Australia for Music & Memory. It was introduced to Australian aged care facilities in November 2015, but the partnership with the ACI and local health services is the first time the accredited program will be trialled in public acute care services.


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Patients with dementia and other health problems will be treated with a personalised music program in a government-funded program.

[Source Arts Hub]