The project – called Music in Mind – involves musicians from Manchester Camerata collaborating with professional music therapists, to run sessions with residents who have dementia at Care UK’s Station House care home in Crewe, Cheshire. The sessions will be led by residents, who will be encouraged by the musicians and music therapists to pick up instruments and play a tune. Each session will be different and entirely focussed on the desires of the resident, rather than being led by the musicians.
The aim of the sessions is to help improve communication through the creative outlet of music. It will provide care workers at Station House with a deeper understanding of what motivates and benefits the people they care for. It will also provide families with another way of connecting with their loved one, who may no longer be able to clearly express themselves by talking.
The sessions will be observed over the ten weeks, and the findings will be analysed by Manchester Camerata and their academic research partner, the University of Manchester.
Once Music in Mind is evaluated, it is hoped the key findings will inform the wider service provided by Care UK – which has over 100 care homes housing over 6,000 residents, many of whom live with dementia.
Speaking of the aspirations of the Music in Mind project, Care UK’s Head of Dementia, Maizie Mears-Owen, says: “We have long known about the benefits of music for a person’s wellbeing. However, there is also a lot to gain for the carer as they can develop a stronger bond with the people they support, and feel greater fulfilment in their role. We hope to take learnings from this project and replicate best practice in our other care homes and day clubs.”
Speaking of the collaboration, Bob Riley, Chief Executive of Manchester Camerata comments: “In recent years there has been an increase in arts and creative interventions and engagements with dementia sufferers. We as a leading Chamber orchestra – that is equally as passionate about our learning work as we are about our public performances – are delighted to be a part of this trend. But what is particularly exciting is that – through this unique partnership with Care UK and an independent music therapist – we are able to bring something new to the creative intervention arena. We are able to offer dementia patients the chance to engage with music and musicians in a completely natural and holistic way. And hopefully as a result we can make a real difference to their quality of life.”
The collaborative project has been made possible through the Care UK Wellbeing Foundation, a newly-launched charity set up by Care UK to give back to the community at company level, and support initiatives which reflect the organisations core values.
The theme for the foundation’s inaugural year is ‘promoting wellbeing through the arts’. To support this theme, the Foundation wanted to invest in research which would help improve the wellbeing of more vulnerable communities in society – including those living with dementia.
The findings will be shared with the wider care sector to ensure that as many people as possible benefit from the study.
As well as piloting the Music in Mind project, the Care UK Wellbeing Foundation will be supporting small charities – nominated by the public and Care UK colleagues – which reflect the values of the Foundation.
The Foundation has also established a National partner for its inaugural year, Nordoff Robbins, the UK’s leading music therapy charity. The Care UK Wellbeing Foundation has donated £50,000 to Nordoff Robbins, which will find 1,500 music therapy sessions across the country for people living with dementia, learning disabilities or mental health issues.