An unusual project for German television started in January 2020. Based on the BBC factual format „The Dementia Choir“ (A Curve Media Produktion for BBC1) a choir made up of 17 people suffering from dementia was founded in Germany. For three months, the choir and their relatives were accompanied on an unusual, emotional, and challenging journey. A scientific team from the geriatric medicine department of the Goethe University Frankfurt was also part of this project being present during the rehearsals. The central question of the accompanying study is: How does singing and participation in a community activity affect the circumstances of people with dementia and their relatives?
Now the format around the taboo topic dementia, which currently affects around 1.7 million people and their relatives in Germany, has been awarded the Health Media Award in the category “Social Commitment” as an example of outstanding health communication.
In this unusual project, not only the participants asked themselves whether music and collective singing can improve the quality of life and the course of illness for people with dementia, but also prove that illness and joy of life do not have to be mutually exclusive. Involved from the very beginning: actress Annette Frier and choir director Eddi Hüneke, known from the Wise Guys. Annette Frier was not only part of the choir herself, but also visited the singers at home and accompanied the scientific tests and examinations. The four episodes of the series “Unforgettable – Our choir for people with dementia” produced by Tower Productions, managed by Dietlinde Stroh were broadcast in July and August 2020 and reached an average of 1.5 million viewers.
By this format, the ZDF, Annette Frier, and Tower Productions created a platform with large coverage for the important topic of Dementia and how people deal with it, which provided many people with valuable suggestions on how to live with their own or relatives illness. At the same time, the format stands for an exemplary commitment from those involved. So the Health Media Award 2020 for „Unvergesslich – Unser Chor für Menschen mit Demenz“ is more than deserved. The award, a statue by the Italian artist Massimo Bramandi (Florence), has been presented by the Health Media Award e.V. for 12 years now.
Producer Dietlinde Stroh, who continues the project „Unvergesslich – Unser Chor für Menschen mit Demenz“ even when the TV production ended, is pleased about being awarded:
„I am very happy to accept the award for Tower Productions and thank you from the bottom of my heart for the recognition of our work and our commitment. I am really pleased that this important topic is getting even more attention thanks to the great award.“
Annette Frier is as overjoyed:
„The dementia choir and the many enthusiastic and inspiring reactions to our project have completely overwhelmed me in this year. For me, the Health Media Award is the materialized bouquet of all these great energies. Many Thanks! A great gift to all of us!“
Thorsten Haas, Deputy head of the main editorial team for the show at ZDF added:
„Presenting the socially highly relevant topic of dementia authentically and giving an understanding to a large audience in an informative and at the same time emotional way – was the aim of this special TV project. We received a lot of positive feedback about the broadcast. Hopefully, the choir will become a role model for many similar ideas. We are very happy about being awarded the Health Media Award is a great acknowledgement of the project and the entire production team, ZDF, and certainly also for our choir participants and their families.“
The handover of the Health:Angel has to be postponed to 2021 due to the corona pandemic.