Glenn Bassett – Creator of TeaTime Tunes – Engaging Those with Memory Loss

Glenn Bassett – Creator of TeaTime Tunes – Creator of TeaTime Tunes – Engaging Those with Memory Loss

Glenn Bassett, also known as ‘My Mate George’ lives in London, England and plays guitar and sings. His job since 2012 has been leading music sessions for people with dementia and their carers. They are energetic groups, and there is always plenty of dancing — it’s like a big party.

He has over 2000 songs in his repertoire and can usually oblige any style. And if he doesn’t know it, I’ll go and learn it!

Glenn Bassett created Teatime Tunes’, a brilliant idea to help engage and foster positive behaviors from those suffering memory loss and dementia.

The components that make it compelling include:

Regularity and timing.

With routine clearly very important in dementia care, especially with most real-life services now cancelled, he sets a regular time for videos to be released. 3pm each day in the UK timed a mid-afternoon snack time: not too soon after lunch, but it’s still relatively light outside, and can provide some stimulation during the day which should aid sleep at night.

He wanted it to be every day, as there are too many services that simply don’t exist at weekends or on Bank Holidays, and carers can be at a loss for ways to engage their loved ones at those times. The videos are also a maximum of ten minutes long. Attention spans can be short in dementia, but also, for carers to engage their loved ones in an activity for an extended period of time can be very tiring. He wanted the Teatime Tunes to feel like a joyful thing that a carer could look forward to joining in with every day.

Date and song number.
Each day he displays the date, to help orient people in time (the little poster in shot also reminds the viewer that it’s 3pm). He also has a song-number displayed, so that the viewer is aware lots of other songs have already appeared, and that this is a daily routine. This may also encourage people to be curious about the previous songs and perhaps request to go back to old favourites.

He has a number of props that provide reassuring continuity, but also a bit of variety to encourage the viewer to notice little changes each day. Each day the mug for his tea changes and he briefly talks about that. The snack changes. There are many small character toys behind him on the sofa – the main ones remain, and the smaller ones change their position each time. And of course, there’s the ever-present boater hat, and the different coloured ‘G’ t-shirts (which is handily a reminder for ‘Glenn’ or ‘George’.)

Food and drink.

Carers often mention how tricky it can be to encourage their loved ones to eat and drink regularly, especially important with some medications. So “G” enjoying a cuppa and a snack is a very deliberate part of the videos, to gently encourage the viewer to do the same.

Familiar songs.

Of course, the main element of each video is the song. The key is to encourage participation rather than simply passive viewing, so he tries to make every song jaunty and foot-tapping, even the slow ones. Thrilled to have Glenn Bassett on board.

Brought to you by Music for Dementia UK.