Review: My Journey in Music by Luke Fiddes

Review: My Journey in Music by Luke Fiddes

A sharply written account of a young person coping with the challenges of adolescence, My Journey in Music is both the story of author Luke Fiddes’ success in using music to overcome the difficulties and realise the benefits associated with Asperger syndrome, but also a practical guide for anyone looking to apply these same principles to their own life.

For several years Luke has worked in schools using music to engage with children, helping them to discover the power of expressing yourself through music. He is also a passionate and talented musician on a variety of instruments, and a keen songwriter. Luke’s work is directly influenced by the part that music has played in his own life, frequently stating that it has transformed the way he thinks about and utilises being on the autistic spectrum. Along with co-author John Osborne, whose experiences in using personalised music in a therapeutic setting is invaluable to this project, Luke draws on these convictions throughout the book, resulting in a powerful testament to the potential of using music to help navigate the difficulties of teenage life.

The book is split into two halves. The first half provides a personal account of Luke’s teenage years, charting his growing understanding of his autism, the difficulty he faced initially in dealing with the challenges it presented and his later success in managing them, through perseverance and music. The second half of the book contains activities and questions to work through, encouraging the reader to put Luke’s principles into action in their own lives.

The narrative Luke provided at the outset is remarkable for its frankness, as it takes the reader through Luke’s Journey in Music right alongside him. It pulls no punches, detailing his struggles and frustrations at school and in his personal life. This all serves to make his eventual successes and triumphs all the more inspiring. As well as praising the author for his honesty, it is worth noting too that Luke’s writing is sharp and to the point, which increases itsMy Journey in Music force. Luke’s account provides many eye-opening insights into growing up with Asperger syndrome while also discussing challenges that will be familiar to all young people.

Upon finishing Luke’s story, by following the exercises in the second half of the book it is possible for children or teenagers with special needs to encounter the healing and therapeutic power of music to which Luke attests. The activities are fun and varied, designed to get the reader thinking about the music that is most important to them and the different ways in which they are significant, perhaps through association with a loved one or with a cherished memory. Upon completion, the child will be left with a ‘My Journey in Music Playlist’, listing all their favourite songs in one place, while individual sections (such as ‘Motivation’ or ‘Relaxation’) can be used therapeutically as mood enhancement. For example, the songs from the ‘Relaxation’ playlist and the recorded memories associated with them can be used to unwind following a difficult day. In fact, the book would be useful to any young person due to its powerful central message and the commonality of Luke’s experiences, which are recognisable to any teenager.

The book is therefore doubly important, containing an entertaining, funny and heartfelt narrative through which the reader is presented with a clear path for approaching personalised music in this way, while also of great practical use that will have them directly applying the thoughts and lessons of the first half to their own lives. In Luke’s book, any teenager will find a lot to be motivated, comforted and inspired by.

To order your own copy of My Journey in Music, visit our shop or click here.

Why is training important?

Why is training important?

Hi, I’m Clare Wilcox, an experienced health and social care trainer with 25 years of experience within the care sector, 20 of those working with adults with learning disabilities, complex care needs, PMLD and challenging behaviour, within the NHS.

I’ve been a trainer for 6 years, have a PTLLS qualification and I’m currently half-way through my second year studying for my DET at University.

I thoroughly enjoy being able to increase people’s knowledge, help them to see outside the box, prevent them from becoming complacent, and improve problem solving skills. If you’ve been in a job for a while, it’s all too easy to become complacent! Because people change, our skills need to change along with them – person centred care is vital!

I also like my training sessions to be relaxed and friendly, to ensure everyone contributes and feels valued. It’s your training, and I wholeheartedly believe that you will get out of it what you put in.

There is no such thing as a stupid question in my training!

I’m always keen to ensure that everyone has a full understanding of the subject, and I’m aware that everyone learns in a different way. I am always understanding of this, and like to adapt my training style to suit the trainees. I also like to use personal experiences to support them in embedding their knowledge and understanding. It’s alright having the knowledge, but do you know why you do it the way you do?!

I am also clear that, believe it or not, I don’t know everything – I aim to learn something from my trainees in every session!

Why is training important?

As a trainer, the worst sentence you can hear is ‘We’ve always done it this way’ – I always respond with ‘And has it always worked? And are the people you’re working with now the same as they were then?’.

As well as professional experience in health care supporting people with autism, I also have many years of experience in my personal life, and not all the skills are the same! This has given me a unique understanding of autism and PBS. For many years, people were under the impression that the autistic spectrum was a straight line. It’s not – it’s more like a Pick ‘N Mix from Wilco’s!

From my experience as both a care worker and the parent of a child with autism, it is my firm belief that all behaviour has a reason. Unfortunately, it often takes time to discover what that reason is. This is true for many, whether we’re talking about autism, dementia, or anything else that can affect the brain. For example, for someone with autism it could take an hour for them to process a situation and react. Unlike myself when driving behind someone who forgets to use their indicators – my emotional reaction in that situation is normally quite instantaneous! But for someone with autism, they may express behaviours up to an hour later in response to the same situation.

This is why I am passionate about PBS training and understanding the reasons for the behaviour and supporting an individual at that point, rather than relying on more extreme measures later. It’s about being proactive, not reactive!

It’s always worth remembering that what might be important to our service users may not be important to us, like the seat you sit in on public transport, which mug you drink from or the colour of your plate – but it’s our responsibility to recognise and acknowledge the value that our service users see in these things, and understand how this might influence their behaviour.

To learn more about the face-to-face, online and distance learning Health and Social Care training we offer, click here

Review: Soundtrack to My Life by John Osborne

Review: Soundtrack to My Life by John Osborne

Soundtrack to My Life offers an innovative and thoroughly entertaining approach to using personalised music in dementia care, centred around compassion and understanding.

Author John Osborne’s background as a musician combined with over 35 years spent working in health and social care, along with his experience of caring for his own father who had dementia, gives him a unique understanding of the relationship between music and memory loss conditions. His experiences are coupled with an understanding of the power of music and its therapeutic potential, both in evoking the past and influencing how we engage with the present.

The book’s approach is organised according to three ‘core principles’; firstly, that ‘People with dementia don’t lose the ability to communicate, we lose the ability to understand them’. Second is the assertion that in order to work with people with dementia it is essential to ‘know their life story’, and thirdly, that ‘We are all capable of using music to create memory bridges and reconnections that support people with dementia to live well’. These are successfully woven throughout the book by the author, who uses them to frame the exercises in each section.

The book is designed to be worked through, stage by stage, through a variety of activities that bear these principles in mind. For example the first section, ‘My Family’, encourages the reader to think about the music they associate with their children, their parents and their own childhood. There is also space allocated to record favourite family memories. This approach is then used to cover a variety of topics ranging from musical favourites (and, just as importantly, dislikes) to songs associated with major life events. These sections also have activities that encourage drawing, colouring and sticking in photographs, which can be completed according to the discretion of the reader.

Following the completion of all the sections, the book offers the opportunity to compile favourite songs from each section, to make up a ‘Soundtrack to My Life Playlist’. With an understanding of the memories and emotions attached to each song recorded earlier in the book, it then becomes possible to ‘apply the music in practical and therapeutic ways’, for example by using a relaxing song to lessen the anxiety of a hospital visit.

Designed to be carried around and frequently referred to, this book would be of therapeutic value not only to people living with dementia, but also to family or friends who will find the process of supporting a loved one in compiling their playlist, while reminiscing through music, greatly rewarding.

In Soundtrack to My Life John Osborne has created a practical, engaging and entertaining guide for people with dementia, or those caring for people with dementia. The result is a compilation of the pieces of music most important to them and a record of the memories and significances that they hold, ‘to enhance quality of life and promote emotional and spiritual wellbeing’.

Natasha’s Law and Food Safety – Are you up to date?

Natasha’s Law and Food Safety – Are you up to date?

Hi, I’m Wayne Saunders, your registered Food Safety Trainer, Nottingham born and bred!

My catering knowledge, experience and training has been achieved over 35 years working within companies such as ASDA, Morrisons, Boots PLC and ISS Food Hygiene. For several years I have set up and run my own fast-food takeaway, which naturally led me into passing on my knowledge and experience through teaching and training others, including within the Health & Social care sector. I have a passion to teach and a passion to train. My moto is: ‘I learned it the hard way – don’t take it to the grave’. Every day is a new day and on each and every course delivery I am proud to achieve a friendly & professional service. My sessions are about breaking it down for others, making it clear, understandable, interesting, and fun! If you can’t read it, I will teach it – if you don’t understand it, I will describe it!

I’m registered with Highfields Governing Body as a trainer to deliver accredited Food Safety courses in Catering, Manufacturing and Retail. My objective is always to give everybody present the full and fair opportunity to achieve, and most importantly PASS!!

What can I do for you? – Natasha’s Law

It is recommended that food safety training and certificates should be updated every 3 years. Are you up to date?

Don’t get caught out. When it comes to Food Safety, the law is changing all the time. Natasha’s Law, implemented in October 2021, is the most recent example of that and will have a major impact on the way your food needs to be labelled. I can provide you with up-to-date information about changes in the law, so you know exactly what you need to do. I can help with the completion of Safer Food Better Business packs, and most importantly assist with working towards achieving your Level 2 Food Safety Certificate in Catering.

I also provide site visits recommending best practice, paperwork documentation, improvements & consultations. Training, due diligence and knowledge increases scores on the doors, overall Food Safety and legal compliance.

Ignorance is no defence in the eyes of the law, due diligence and training is. Register your interest for online dates or face-to-face bookings HERE.

What to buy for Christmas?

What to buy for Christmas?

When we are providing training in residential and nursing homes around this time of year, we see people starting to think about arrangements for Christmas. One of the questions we are often asked is “what do you buy for someone living in care?” – there is a limit to the number of toiletries or chocolates that anyone can make use of!

We know that the power of music is one of the most important and lasting impacts on someone. Particularly for people with dementia it may be difficult to read a book, to follow the plot of a film or remember what’s happening in a TV series. But the gift of music can be truly life enhancing, especially when it is personalized to the individual and contains those specific pieces of music that are most significant. We know that music can calm and soothe, can aid relaxation and sleep, can invigorate and motivate, and can help re-connect people with memories of the past.

Our “Soundtrack to My Life” book helps people to identify the pieces of music that can be used to improve the quality of life through music. It can be a great activity for families to take part in together, remembering the most important songs and the events and times they represent.

Once the selection is complete the songs can be compiled onto a CD, MP3 player of tablet that the person can have with them and use at their leisure. A perfect and lasting gift.

Our “Soundtrack to My Life” books are available from the JoCo shop or by following this hyperlink.


Music Is Most Certainly Medicine

Music Is Most Certainly Medicine

If we need proof of the power of music, it comes in a study of 7,000 patients whose data was analysed by researchers at Brunel University and Queen Mary University in London. They found that listening to music before, during and after surgical procedures proved beneficial to patients, reducing anxiety and pain, increasing satisfaction rates and lowering the need for pain medication.

The findings of the research (published in The Lancet in August 2015) took data from 72 trails and compared the impact of music with “standard” care or other non-drug interventions (e.g. relaxation and massage) amongst adult patients undergoing any surgical procedure.

It may come as no surprise to many of you that patients who selected their own music reported even better outcomes with greater reduction in pain and use of medication.

Lead author Dr. Catherine Meads from Brunel University stated “More than 51 million operations are performed every year in the USA and around 4.6 million in England. Music is a non-invasive, safe, cheap intervention that should be available to everyone undergoing surgery. Patients should be allowed to choose the type of music they would like to hear to maximize the benefit to their wellbeing.”

Imagine the benefits if all patients had access to our “Music is Medicine” book to help them select the music they wanted with them not only during surgery but throughout the whole of their recovery period?

Positive News in Health and Social care

There is a general lack of positive publicity for care homes. Care homes are also pretty poor at proactively promoting themselves and being positive about their achievements. This might be part of our British self-deprecating, stoic charm but its having an impact on the workforce.

The negativity has an impact on how staff and managers feel about their jobs. Care is not viewed as a vocation in the same way as nursing. Findings reported in the Burstow report “A vision for care fit for the twenty-first century…” revealed that some experts consulted during the Commission felt there was a degree of ‘shame’ attached to the role of care workers.

There are some wonderful exponents doing amazing work to showcase the talent and good quality, innovative care being delivered everyday. Caretalk, NHS Change Day, School for Health Care Radicals, Dementia UK, Tommy on Tour to name a few.

There is room for all of us to do so much more to share good news!

If you have care good news to share do let us know via facebook, twitter or email. We would be pleased to include you in our free newsletter!

Narrow Focus on Standards Endangers the Care Certificate

Narrow Focus on Standards Endangers the Care Certificate

As the official April launch of the Care Certificate draws near, at JoCo we are feeling prepared to deliver quality training mapped to the 15 care certificate standards.

By this we mean we have designed and updated our induction courses to reflect the 15 standards and mapped the content in our workbooks. This means that any care workers completing our training will have clear evidence on having been trained but also of understanding their role and responsibilities. All included are workbooks, CPD journal materials.

We have taken care to ensure that learning is not narrowly focussed on the standards because quality care is about SO much more! A few examples of what our training covers:

These examples really could go on…

On the face of it, guidance and toolkits might appear to suggest that a line manager’s chat/professional discussion with an employees can be sufficient to determine competence.

Do not be fooled!

It simply won’t be enough to determine competence in those first 12 weeks of employment. Lord Willis who chaired the “Shape of Caring Review” said in the Nursing Times recently, “I envisage every care worker in the future having their own ‘app’ onto which goes all their competencies which will be signed off by a person with a badge and a number”.I think before we even get to there, (let’s tackle the reality of technology in social care another day – hey?) let’s just make sure there is robust framework and training providers to support managers and ‘badged professionals’ to build a confident, skilled and empowered workforce. It is the only way to safeguard our future workforce.

We are welcoming ideas, thoughts and comments on how you plan to deliver the Care Certificate and are on hand to give advice and support. Post your questions on Twitter, Facebook or email us on for support and info.

Dementia IS a Women’s Issue

When I read a piece by Philly Hare (JRF 2014) where she wrote, “…when I get old I’ll be more likely than my brother to have dementia…or to care for someone who does”, it certainly struck a chord with me.

Whether you consider yourself an active feminist or not it’s time to recognise that Dementia disproportionately affects women. More women have the condition, more women are family carers for someone with dementia and more women are delivering services as professionals in health and social care.

It is encouraging to see an increase in research investigating this issue and informing the best ways to support women affected by dementia. Whatever the research and statistics tell us I believe the solutions will boil down to women’s solidarity.

This International Women’s Day (Sunday 8th March) I hope we are all inspired to place dementia on our women’s solidarity priority list with the same amount of passion we have had for gender achievement for centuries.

Women need to meet the dementia challenge with a unity of interest, care, compassion and sympathy.

Women need to act with unanimity of attitude, purpose and action to support women as women.

Please share your comments, feedback and ideas with us at on our Facebook page or on Twitter.