Unique reminiscence therapy in aged care

Organisation: 4MBS Classic FM

Project: Establishing Silver Memories in Rockhampton & Yeppoon

Amount: $45,000

Year of grant: 2013

Silver Memories is a unique 24 hour, 7 day a week nostalgia radio station. Created and managed by 4MBS Classic FM, a Brisbane community radio station, it is designed to address the needs of socially isolated older people in the community including those living in residential aged care.

The key goal of Silver Memories is to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of older people, providing programs relevant to the period when they grew up. Silver Memories broadcasts music from the 1920s through to the 1950s and features old radio serials, comedy and cheerio calls. A University of Queensland study undertaken in 2009 concluded that Silver Memories has a positive effect on people with dementia, those bedridden in aged care, and those isolated in the community. Further research by Gary Thorpe, the General Manager of 4MBS, confirmed that music is an important therapy tool in dementia care, palliative care and recovery from other conditions such as stroke, however, Silver Memories is a truly unique program and he garnered much interest when discussing the program with international care givers and music therapists.

Based on the research, 4MBS wished to pilot expanding the reach of Silver Memories beyond Brisbane. The John Villiers Trust provided a grant to install Silver Memories into 13 aged care facilities in the Rockhampton and Yeppoon areas as a trial to deliver the program to regional Queensland. The introduction of Silver Memories into the facilities had an immediate effect on residents with one home advising within days of the installation that they had already noticed a positive change in the mood of residents and in the general atmosphere of the home. Other outcomes included calmer residents.

Originally planned for facilities to access the radio station via the internet, it became clear that the signal was not reliable enough to ensure a good service and accordingly satellite delivery of the signal was decided, requiring a satellite dish to be installed at each facility which was covered by the grant.

During the course of the pilot, 4MBS discovered it was important for all staff to be briefed and involved in using Silver Memories as a tool to engage residents. Accordingly, a Silver Memories Activity Kit was also developed for diversional therapists and lifestyle coordinators to use. A Silver Memories website is currently being developed that will provide diversional therapists and other staff at the homes with updates and activities that they can use in conjunction with the kit.

For more information and to listen to Silver Memories, visit the 4MBS website.