Playlist for Life

Award: £160,000
Timescale: July 2018 - June 2020

Project aims

  • To support more people with dementia to use personal playlists and harness the benefits of music on a daily basis, empowering them to manage        dementia symptoms, improve wellbeing and support connection.
  • To establish two Music Labs, with the involvement of people living with dementia and carers
  • To increase the number of Playlist For Life Help Points within third party organisations
  • To increase the number of people with playlists and the number of organisations that know how to use them



Playlist for Life is a charity that wants to share with everyone a simple message earned from lived experience: personal music can help people living with dementia.

They were founded four years ago by writer and BBC broadcaster Sally Magnusson. While caring for her mother, Mamie, she observed that personal music became the only thing keeping Mamie connected, to the family and her very sense of self.

After Mamie’s death Sally discovered this was not an accident but a recognised phenomenon backed up by two decades of research. However, no-one was sharing this knowledge as a matter of course with families in the UK. 

Sally set up Playlist for Life to let other families know and empower them to use personal music in their own lives by providing tools and training to help them overcome identified barriers.  

More than half of their staff have family experience of dementia and they believe passionately that raising awareness of the power of personal music will improve individual lives and bring about a transformation in the way people with dementia are perceived and cared for by communities.

Playlist for Life want to make the power of personal music general knowledge so people can get started themselves or can be advised and assisted by people they already know or the media they already consume.


More Information

Research shows that personal music helps people living with dementia manage symptoms, improve wellbeing and strengthen relationships. Funding over two years will increase the use of personal music by (1) establishing ‘Playlist for Life Music Labs’ for people affected by dementia to test and invent tools, training and other forms of practical support to create and use personal playlists and (2) expand the network of local community ‘Help Points’ to 300 to roll out this support.

Outcomes we'd like to see

  • More people with dementia will have access to their unique personal playlist and by using it will be empowered to manage their symptoms, experience improved wellbeing and schedule activities throughout the day.
  • People with dementia and their family carers will use the creation of a playlist and listening together to support communication, improve their relationship and reduce social isolation and loneliness. 
  • Volunteers working to support people with dementia will have greater knowledge of dementia and a new means to connect with people affected by the disease.  
  • Services for people with dementia will be improved as tools and training for the use of personal music are shaped more directly by people affected by dementia and personal music becomes a common means to support wider activity.
  • Personal music will become a consistent thread supporting connections within and between Dementia Friendly Communities as more people with dementia have playlists and more organisations know how to use them.