Alive Activities Ltd


Award amount: £60,000 over 3 years

‘Our staff are now more confident and able to deliver a range of activities. I’d recommend the Coaching Programme to other homes.’ (Care Home Manager)

‘It gives them (the participants) the opportunity to engage in life again, to enjoy the moment and have fun.’ (Occupational Therapist)

‘One lady was in tears as her husband had never joined in any activities before, but today he did. She even made the point of coming over to me to thank me. This, she said, was a ‘serious breakthrough’.’  (Staff member at Dementia Hub, Tangmere)


Organisation: Alive Activities Ltd (Alive)

The charity

Alive is one of the UK’s leading charities enriching the lives of older people in care and training their carers. Alive’s mission is to put older people’s mental health and wellbeing at the heart of care across the UK. They achieve this through;

  • Engaging older people creatively through meaningful activity sessions
  • Training and supporting care staff to enhance older people’s wellbeing and deliver outstanding care at every opportunity
  • Reducing social isolation by connecting older people to their local communities
  • Speaking up for the rights of older people in care to those with the power to improve their lives

The problem

Whilst care homes are regulated, quality of life is not inspected and therefore tends not to be prioritised. Alive has found that only a quarter of the care homes they visit have activity coordinators and they typically work few hours, have little training or support and minimal budgets. Too often, residents receive very little stimulation, rarely speaking or interacting, which leads to loneliness, isolation and depression.

The project

Over the course of the grant, Alive:

  • provided 9,126 activity workshops in 375 care homes, directly benefitting 11,250 older people.

These workshops enabled care home residents to experience music, poetry, quizzes, art activities, art appreciation, dance and guided reminiscence. One to one sessions were also provided for residents who were unable to leave their rooms, many of whom were severely depressed and/or nearing the end of their lives.

  • trained and supported 1,003 care staff from 243 care settings through training days, 10-week coaching programmes and forums.

These sessions built up the staff’s skills, confidence and motivation, which will consequently increase the capacity of these homes to provide meaningful activity for residents as part of their everyday role. Topics included: improving communication with older people, guidance on activity and reminiscence sessions and use of iPads with people who have dementia.

  • distributed 469 ‘Making a Difference’ Best Practice Guides to support care home managers and staff to develop a more relationship-centred approach.

Through advocacy and influence, Alive actively sought opportunities to boost quality of life for care home residents up the agenda, working with partners in the charity, public, private and academic sectors.

Did it work?

The work of Alive was externally evaluated by Professor Norma Daykin from the University of the West of England and health evaluation experts at Willis Newson in 2015. To measure the improved mood of residents, the Arts Obs tool was used. Findings from the report indicated that activities significantly improved participants’ health and wellbeing:

  • 88% increase in mood/wellbeing
  • 100% increase in relaxation
  • 96% increase in stimulation

In relation to the care staff, data revealed that staff rated themselves as having:

  • Increased knowledge (82%)
  • Increased skill (69%)
  • Increased confidence (78%)
  • Increased motivation (80%)