by Tracey Johnstone
IT'S A beautiful idea; a choir for people with dementia receiving care within their own home and for their carers.
The Forget Me Not Choir, which is supported by the Clarence Valley Conservatorium, is a new initiative which has received NSW Government funding through the Sing Your Age program.
Instigated by two enthusiastic Grafton residents, conductor Leigh Robertson and pianist Jenny Worrell, they held their first weekly choir meeting at the start of February.
Leigh and Jenny start the sessions with some warm-ups and response songs that help everyone to relax. "Then we start to sing," Jenny said. "We notice as soon as we start to sing, everyone starts to relax. From 10am to 11.30am we have the most fabulous time.
"We even ask the participants to suggest songs and they are in it."
The group sing and play percussions instruments from 10am to 10.30am, then they have morning tea until 11am which gives the carers a chance to have social interaction and to talk among themselves. After that they return to singing for another half hour.
The first session had 18 participants. Jenny said they can take up to 40. "From the level of interest that is being shown, I wouldn't be surprised if we had to offer a second session," Jenny said.
Jenny and Leigh have previously worked together on choirs. Jenny has also had the experience of caring for her mother who had dementia. "It's about giving something back to the community," Jenny said. "And, there is a huge need for it because in the nursing homes there are services offered like this, but not for people who are being cared for in their home.
"When we floated this idea, everyone said this is a fantastic.
"We are hoping this is going to open up all sorts of things within Clarence Valley," Jenny added.
The Forget Me Not Choir meet at the Clarence Valley Conservatorium every Tuesday during school terms.