Barnoldswick choir hoping to tackle dementia issues

Burnley and Pendle Citizen: The Elderberries with the chair of the Friends of Cravenside Jennifer Purcell, second left, Julie Cowgill, standing right, and Peter Wright The Elderberries with the chair of the Friends of Cravenside Jennifer Purcell, second left, Julie Cowgill, standing right, and Peter Wright

RESIDENTS at a care home in Barnoldswick have formed their own choir — and hope it will improve health.

Named 'The Elderberries', the choir is made up of residents at Cravenside, some of whom are living with dementia.

It was set up with help from the Friends of Cravenside group with the vice-chairman of the group, Peter Wright, accompanying the choir on his guitar.

Julie Cowgill, registered care manager at Cravenside, said: “We know that many residents love musical activities and had obviously enjoyed the visits from local school and church choirs during Christmas last year.

“So it was really only a short step from there to forming The Elderberries. There's a lot of research about the health benefits of singing, including for older people.

"These include physical benefits such as getting more oxygen into the bloodstream and exercising different muscle groups, even if the singer is sitting down.

“But there are also psychological benefits as singing helps people to feel relaxed and can improve their sense of wellbeing.

“And for our residents, the regular choir practice also helps to provide a routine and means they have an enjoyable creative activity to look forward to every week.”

Being part of the choir means residents have opportunities to socialise and make friends with people who live in other parts of the home.

Choir practices are held in the large communal room, and all residents are welcome to take part, whatever their musical ability. In particular, people who have dementia are actively encouraged and supported to join in.

Julie said: “We are hoping that some of our other county council-run homes will follow our lead and form choirs of their own.

“And, after opening the recent Cravenside Christmas Fair, The Elderberries may be ready to give a performance or two and show them how it's done.”

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