By William Lailey and Aliki Kraterou
A room full of dementia patients are now smiling for the first time in years – after they started taking part in baby singalong classes.
Liz Turner, 44, from Newport, South Wales, is the founder of the Baby singalong, a music group where mums and their babies visit care homes and spend time with the elderly and of course, sing.
Liz is certain of the positive impact these sessions have on the elderly and insists she has noticed changes in their behaviour.
The mum of two has been running baby groups in community centres for the past seven years, until she got the idea of helping the elderly when one of the mums in her group said her dad would love the session and he was in a care home.
Since then Liz is trying to show that care homes are not necessarily daunting, depressing places but places where people take care of their physical and mental health.
She said: “People in a care home don’t really have much to do so they get quite depressed, especially the ones suffering from dementia, they get confused.
“They get very excited when someone’s grandchild is visiting so when they have about ten of them at the same time, they really get affected in a positive way.
“There is no loser from this at all- it’s really good for the babies, they love the music and they are having a good time and so do the elderly.
“The thing with dementia is that they get confused, they ask for example where their parents are or the think they are their children.
“They might not know who they are, they might not understand what’s going on but they still know all the words to ‘You are my sunshine’.
“It’s so emotional, it’s like a therapy and I have seen it happen.
“I have seen people who haven’t smiled before, smile when we turn up.
“I remember one of the residents in one of the homes, since moving into a care home she was very confused, asking when she was going to die, they couldn’t motivate her with traditional activity and when the babies arrived initially she didn’t want to participate but by the end of the session she was at the front and was really getting involved- a completely different woman.
“There is so much noise, it’s so fun for them because it’s different from the other activities they usually do.
“In one of the sessions they even brought a psychiatrist because there was a very distressed lady, shouting out and when we go there she is so calm, so happy, she is smiling, she’s joining with the songs, she tells me how grateful she is at the end of the session- but when we leave she goes back to being upset.
“One of the gentlemen who has suffered a stroke can’t speak properly, just babbles at them and since they can’t speak either they just babble back- it’s so lovely. “