Live music ‘essential’ in all UK care homes – report

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A major new national report recommends that live music should be essential in all UK care homes.

Led by Live Music Now and the University of WinchesterLive Music in Care presents evidence about how music can benefit people living and working in care and provides practical guidance about how music can be introduced affordably and sustainably.

A Choir in Every Care Home

The report is the result of a research enquiry supported by 35 national organisations in the social care and arts sectors, working together since 2015 under the banner, A Choir in Every Care Home.

Funded by the Baring Foundation, A Choir in Every Care Home surveyed the creative ways that older people engage with music and explored why the majority of care homes do not regularly offer this opportunity. It uncovered evidence supporting the use of music for older people, particularly for those living with dementia. However, it also found limited evidence available about how music programmes can impact on a whole care home.

Live Music in Care

So, from June 2017 to August 2018, Live Music Now and the University of Winchester worked in partnership with MHA (Methodist Homes) and The Orders of St John Care Trust to investigate the impact of music on residents, staff and the whole care home environment.

The independently evaluated results show significant impacts for everyone involved, concluding that ‘carefully delivered music can provide significant benefits for older people, care staff and care settings, contributing to person-centred care’.

As well as recommending that music should be ‘essential’ for all care homes, Live Music in Care makes a series of practice recommendations about choosing suitable repertoire, the appropriate use of percussion and the importance of managerial support and careful planning.

‘Evidence-based music workshops for older people’

Sir Vernon Ellis, Chairman of Live Music Now, said:

‘At Live Music Now, we provide thousands of evidence-based music workshops for older people each year, throughout the UK.

‘This report shows that we need to go even further, supporting those many care homes who have not yet had the opportunity of seeing the benefits of participative live music and helping them to rise to the challenge. I hope you will join us on this important journey.’

‘An effective, sustainable approach’

Dr David M Walters FRSPH, Director of the Centre for Arts as Wellbeing at the University of Winchester, said:

‘The University of Winchester is pleased to have been able to work together with all our partners to design and evaluate this participative approach to live music-making.

‘These findings add to a growing body of evidence and provide key recommendations as to how music-making can be implemented in care homes. The report offers an effective, sustainable approach to providing meaningful and beneficial activities that can enhance the quality of live-in care for both the residents and the staff.’

‘Significant benefits for people who live and work in care’

Professor Martin Green OBE, UK Govt Dementia Champion, CEO of Care England, said:

‘We have known for some time that carefully delivered music activities can provide significant benefits for people who live and work in care. At last, this important report presents rigorous evidence showing how music can impact on whole care settings, not just on individuals.

‘There should no longer be any excuses – live music programmes should be essential for all UK care homes. This report shows why and what practical steps care homes can take to embrace this.’

‘A big step forward in showing what live music can do’

Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector, Care Quality Commission, said:

‘The excellent Live Music in Care report is a big step forward in showing what live music can do.

‘This is much more than simply entertainment. If done well, live music can help care homes achieve all the key indicators of quality person-centred provision that CQC inspectors are looking for.’

The full Live Music in Care report and a short four-page summary are available to download here.


Header photo: LMN musician, Maz O’Connor, leads a workshop at a care home in Whitstable, Kent, alongside the manager of the home and her staff team

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