A new radio station for people living with dementia proved a big hit with listeners as it launched in Belper last week.
Radio Reminisce is an online streaming service with programmes of music and stories for the years 1945-65 to trigger memories and offer comfort.
Pauline Latham MP joined the launch at Spencer Grove care home on May 20 and later mentioned the station at Prime Minister’s Questions.
She said: “Dementia is a cruel disease but this is an amazing idea that will help people with their memories and give them reason to smile.”
The launch was held to coincide with national Dementia Action Week, May 20-26, and Pauline was keen to spread the word by bringing Radio Reminisce to Theresa May’s attention.
The Prime Minister said: “This is obviously a very practical way of providing support for people with early onset dementia, and I welcome this excellent radio service.
“I’m sure it is going to provide very important help to those who are suffering.”
The idea was dreamt up by Belper residents James Oldrini and Ashley Franklin, a former presenter on BBC and Saga radio stations.
James said: “I’ve always been an avid radio listener and recognise that whatever your age, music is therapy for us all. We all have our own favourite tracks, songs that pick us up, those we relax to, and ones that help us think and reflect.
“Also, I’ve always been excited about the research into music and how it can really help stimulate memory in people living with dementia when nothing else can.”
He added :”I had this lightbulb moment when I thought ‘Is there anything like this for an older audience?’ And I realised there wasn’t.”
“Radio Reminisce aims to create a community, bring older people together, and get them talking with one another and sharing memories with their carers, family, friends and neighbours. I’m so proud to be a part of this.”
Ashley presents the programmes for each year, playing popular songs and recounting contemporary news, anecdotes, and reflections.
He said: “I reminisce about the music and the artists but also about radio, television, cinema, family life, food, drink, fashion, holidays, hobbies and sport.
“These are light, warm, entertaining programmes which we hope will help stimulate minds and bring joy, comfort and pleasure to listeners’ lives.”
Subscribers can also access quizzes tailored to seniors, guided chair yoga, and Songs of Praise-style programmes for people who cannot get to church.
James and Ashley trialled the programmes at Milford Care, which operates five homes across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, and were encouraged by the residents’ response.
It was such a compelling idea that John Stamp, a children’s care home director and with a background in music therapy, joined as a director and investor of Radio Reminisce, and brokered a partnership with the National Care Association.
The project partners are appealing to the network of over 18,000 nursing, residential and care homes across the UK as well as the many thousands of people living with dementia who are being cared for at home.
Ashley said: “We are reaching out to the 850,000 people in this country who are living with dementia, particularly early onset dementia.”
He added: “In a wider sense, we are aiming Radio Reminisce at ages 70-plus because they are the disenfranchised music radio listeners of this nation.
“There are nearly 12million of them and it’s scandalous that there isn’t a radio service for them. We are here to provide.”
For more information, go to www.radioreminisce.com.