Carol Tapper says she hit rock bottom when she was diagnosed with early onset dementia.
The 55-year-old thought she was dying and couldn’t stop crying.
But thanks to the power of music she has now done all her ‘greeting’ and is enjoying life again.
Carol is an ambassador for the charity Playlist for Life, which encourages people diagnosed with dementia to create unique, personal music playlists to boost their mood and evoke happy memories.
“You’ve no idea how happy it makes me,” she told STV News.
“I don’t need to think about anything, I don’t need to remember I’ve got dementia, I can just put my playlist on and I’m singing and dancing.
“It’s made a massive difference to my life.”
Now, on World Alzheimer’s Day, Playlist for Life is calling for health and social care workers to learn how to swap medicine for music to support people living with dementia.
The charity is working with carers and nurses to encourage the use of personalised playlists with residents and patients living with dementia.
It says staff at one care home near Glasgow using the playlists reported a 60% reduction in the use of medication to calm anxiety for those with the condition.
And that’s something Carol, who is cared for by her husband Malcolm in Carnwath, South Lanarkshire, can relate to.
She said: “I’ve got songs from when I was at primary school and I’ve got songs from my first ever big disco, and right through to my daughter Heather’s first concert, taking her to see the Spice Girls, and all our wedding songs.
“Honestly, it’s such a wonderful thing, it makes you so happy. I’ve got my playlist in my earphones and I can take it out to my shed, Malcolm has built me a pink shed, and I take it out to the shed and I do my art and just sing my heart out.”
Malcolm, who became depressed while caring for Carol, has made his own playlist and says the initiative has breathed new life into their relationship.
“Carol was very down before we had the playlist,” he said.
“She just went into a world of her own and we lost a lot of our conversations, it was very difficult to have a conversation with Carol because all I was getting back was one-word answers.
“But as soon as we got the playlist put in, and the memory book as well. We’ve only been married 17 years, so Carol’s got a lot of memories I don’t know anything about, the memory book is for me.
“When the music starts I can then start a conversation about that particular memory and Carol, just like that, comes to life, it’s a lightbulb moment, and for me the playlist is the closest thing for a cure to dementia that you’re going to get.
“If she didn’t have a playlist she would have gone into a deep depression.”
Power of music
Working with care homes, NHS wards and higher education institutions across the UK, Playlist for Life trains health and social care teams to use music as the first line of treatment before medication.
Michelle Armstrong-Surgenor, executive director of Playlist for Life, said the power of music in helping dementia patients was never more evident than during the coronavirus pandemic.
She said: “Everyone has their own story to tell through the music that brings back memories from their life. This is also true for many people living with dementia, and certain songs have the ability to calm anxieties and provide comfort.
“Working with health and social care professionals in particular, we have found that personalised playlists can benefit both the person living with dementia and the care professional.
“Finding the musical soundtrack of someone’s life helps strengthen relationships and allows the caregiver to see the person beyond the dementia diagnosis, through the music that is important to them.”
Laura and Colin
Laura McConnell’s uncle, Colin McDowall, had an industrial accident when he was 26-years-old. He was electrocuted twice while working on railway lines in London.
He was taken to the city’s Royal Free Hospital and underwent brain surgery. The prognosis was not good but Colin survived and he has learnt how to walk, talk and recognise people once again.
He eventually moved in with his sister and her family. Colin doesn’t have an official dementia diagnosis but many of the symptoms of his condition are similar.
“My parents took him, my mother is Colin’s sister, so he became our wee brother really even though he was older,” Laura told STV News.
“He’s come on leaps and bounds – the big problem is the memory and he’s partially blind, he’s got tunnel vision.
“Colin loves music, it changes him when he hears music. When he hears something he starts dancing, even if you’re in Tesco.
“It’s wonderful as a carer to see him so happy. It’s not just his mood, it’s his whole being, the way he walks after it, he’s more talkative, it’s wonderful.”
Colin says he enjoys every minute of creating his musical playlists
He said: “Every little thing I do in there I love to do because it’s great, I really love it.
“I keep trying to think of who sung it and where I was. I can remember who sung it but I can’t remember their name, I can see them. It really does boost my mood.”
Celtic have announced a £11.5m loss before tax after a year of disruption from the coronavirus pandemic.
The club said it suffered from lower gains on player trading, compared with the previous year, and being unable to host fans during lockdown.
In 2020, Celtic made a gain on sale of player registrations of £24.2m but only made £9.4m in the year to June 30, 2021.
The club spent £13.5m on players compared with £20.7m in 2020.
In September, chief executive Dominic McKay quit the club after just five months, with the club citing “personal reasons” for his departure.
McKay moved to Parkhead on April 19 but only officially succeeded Peter Lawwell, who retired after 17 years, on July 1.
It followed a managerial change and large turnover of playing staff.
Neil Lennon left the club in February with John Kennedy taking on the role until the end of the season.
He was replaced by former Australia manager Ange Postecoglou.
In February, Celtic revealed a pre-tax loss of almost £6m and a decrease in revenue of almost 24% in the club’s half-year financial report.
Ian Bankier, the club’s chairman, said the year to June 30 was characterised by “huge disruption to our operations” and the absence of supporters from stadiums.
He said conditions had improved markedly since, with Celtic delighted to welcome fans back in July.
In his statement he wrote: “The persisting trading restrictions from Covid-19 translated into lost earnings and, taking account of the seasonality in our trading, this was the key factor in the widening of our losses in the second half of the financial year.
“Although our stadium has been operating at near full capacity, recently announced Scottish Government restrictions on large venues will be a further challenge.
“Whilst we look forward with optimism to a more normal operating environment, we are mindful of the inherent risk of the pandemic continuing to affect public health.”
Stagecoach has confirmed talks over a potential all-share takeover by rival National Express in a move that would bring together two of the UK’s biggest transport groups.
Under the terms of the possible all-share tie-up, National Express would own around 75% of the combined group and Stagecoach shareholders around 25%.
It comes after both firms have been hit hard by the pandemic, with passenger numbers slumping during the crisis.
The groups have outlined plans to slash costs as part of the potential merger, with National Express saying it expects to find annual savings of at least £35m, with around 25% by the end of the first year.
If the talks lead to a deal, the combined group would see Stagecoach chairman Ray O’Toole become chairman of the board.
National Express boss Ignacio Garat would be chief executive of the enlarged group.
No money has been paid into a financial redress scheme for abuse survivors despite the Scottish Government claiming it will be ready to start by the end of the year.
Redress Scotland was set up following the passage of legislation in March, and would offer financial payments of up to £100,000 to those subject to abuse in care before December 2004.
To help fund the scheme, legislation passed earlier this year said funding packages would be negotiated with organisations “who, in making or agreeing to make such a contribution, acknowledge the wrongfulness of, and the harm caused by, the historical child abuse which took place in relevant care settings”.
But the Scottish Government has said it remains confident of opening applications by the end of this year, and negotiations with contributors are in “advanced” stages.
The Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Act 2021 included a controversial waiver which meant those who paid into the scheme could not be subject to legal action from recipients of payouts in relation to past abuse allegations.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney – who proposed the Bill and shepherded it through parliament – said the waiver was a way to ensure organisations would contribute, by protecting them from further financial reparations in the future.
However, a freedom of information request shows no payments have yet been secured, despite the Bill being passed six months ago and a goal of opening for applications by the end of the year.
The response from the Scottish Government said: “No money has yet been contributed towards the funding of redress payments under the Act by any authority, organisation or person.”
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “Discussions regarding participation in the scheme have been ongoing for some time and are at an advanced stage.
“No money has been received from contributing organisations yet as discussions are about securing contributions to the scheme in advance of it opening to applications.”
She added that there were no concerns around the funding of the scheme, which would be bankrolled primarily by public funds, with contributions from outside organisations being supplementary.
“The scheme will be funded by the Scottish Government with support from the contributions received from organisations,” she said.
“Redress payments to survivors are not dependent on contributions from any organisations.”
Some payments have already been made by the Scottish Government through a precursor scheme aimed at older survivors.
As of April 2021, more than 580 payments of £10,000 had been made to survivors over the age of 68 or terminally ill, in a bid to ensure they are compensated in their lifetime for abuse suffered while in the care system in Scotland.
The Scottish Government is set to announce the doubling of a climate fund aimed at benefiting the poorest countries in the world.
Ahead of a debate on climate change in Holyrood on Tuesday, net zero secretary Michael Matheson has said the climate justice fund will increase from £3m to £6m until the end of this parliamentary term.
The fund was set up in 2012 and has, among other initiatives, provided £3.2m to rural communities in Malawi to help them mitigate the impact of climate change.
Ahead of the debate, Matheson said: “With COP26 coming to Glasgow, this is a pivotal year for making sure countries in the global south have the support they need to tackle climate change.
“That’s why we are doubling our financial support for some of the world’s most vulnerable nations.
“We have committed to ending our contribution to climate change within a generation and we are making great progress – Scotland is already more than halfway to net zero.
“To play our full role in supporting the aims of the Paris agreement, we must also be an ally to the nations most urgently impacted by climate change.
“By doubling our funding for those countries, we will provide much-needed support for those that, while making up only a fraction of the world’s emissions, are already feeling the effects severely.”
Jamie Livingstone, the head of Oxfam Scotland, said: “Right now, across the world, people are losing their lives and homes to climate change.
“This announcement by the Scottish Government is a very welcome and timely acknowledgement that faster action to reduce our emissions must be accompanied by an urgent scaling up of the financial support given to vulnerable countries that are not only the least responsible for the climate crisis, but also the least equipped to cope with it.
“The detail of where this extra money comes from is important too; with only weeks to go until crunch Cop26 climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland should bolster its global leadership by signalling its intent to tax the high emitters that are making the climate emergency worse.
“Doing so would send a powerful message to the rest of the world that climate change isn’t just a matter of science, technology or economics, it’s a matter of justice.”
Muriel Gray is to stand down as chairwoman of Glasgow School of Art, three years after a second fire engulfed the building.
Gray said it has been “the greatest honour” to help with governing the institution but that it is time for a “fresh, energetic, and long-term committed person” to take over the role.
The world-renowned Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed Mackintosh Building at the art school was extensively damaged by a blaze in June 2018 while it was undergoing a £35m restoration following a previous fire in May 2014.
Gray will stand down as chairwoman of the Board of Governors at the end of this month.
She said: “The privilege of assisting with the governance of this magnificent institution, my alma mater, has been the greatest honour.
“With the board having reached a number of key milestones, including successfully recruiting and appointing a highly qualified and experienced new director, assisting the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service with their investigation into the 2018 fire, setting in motion the process to decide the future of the Mackintosh Building, and supporting our hard-working senior management and staff in negotiating the obstacles created by the terrible pandemic, I feel that we are now in a considerably more positive place.
“Having given this a great deal of consideration I believe that as I enter the final year of my third term as chair the time has come to introduce a fresh, energetic, and long-term committed person to the role who can take the GSA forward to the next exciting phase.”
Glasgow School of Art (GSA) said it will announce an interim chairperson as soon as possible, and begin the process for election of a new one in the coming weeks.
A GSA spokeswoman said: “Over the past eight years Muriel has been a committed and enthusiastic chair, and a staunch advocate for the value of creative education.
“While her tireless support for the school will be hugely missed, we are sure that she will remain a much-loved supporter of our students, graduates and staff.”
In June the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said that the investigation into the 2018 fire is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.