Snape Maltings

Award amount: £30,000 over 3 years

Organisation: Snape Maltings

The Dementia and Community project aimed to use music to address disadvantages caused by dementia, providing a range of engagement opportunities, from small group sessions to open-access community events.

The Charity

Snape Maltings is a national centre of musical excellence based in Suffolk, with artist development, education and community impact at its heart.

The need

850,000 people currently live with dementia in the UK, and this number is set to rise to 1 million by 2021 due to an expanding older population. As a way of helping care for and support people with dementia, music has been shown to have a dramatic effect.

Suffolk has a large older population with 13% of people over 75, compared to the national average of 8%. Suffolk Artlink’s 2010 Side by Side project identified that creative provisions for the county’s dementia sufferers were at a low level and needed to grow and also that it needed to encompass families and carers, who frequently reported feeling unsupported or isolated.

Prior to this project, Snape Maltings also conducted research to explore the need for the project and found that there was insufficient capacity and skills currently in residential care homes to provide residents with positive creative activities which could help them ‘live well’.

The project

The project set out to achieve the following outcomes:

  • Engagement with older people and dementia sufferers, their families and carers in Suffolk through fulfilling creative activity, tackling loneliness and social isolation
  • Enhanced communication and a team-spirit among everyone connected with each care home
  • Tangible links between care home communities and the wider Suffolk community
  • A long-term legacy of music-based activity
  • Artist development and knowledge sharing about project delivery for older people and people with dementia

Is it working?

1162 older people benefitted from the project along with 69 family members and 62 care professionals. Participants in residential care homes were monitored through a bespoke scoring system, aiming to capture their level of engagement throughout the project. The scores showed that participants were achieving higher levels of musical engagement and pro-social behaviours at the end of the project. A resident at one of the care homes described the impact of the project:

“It has been a delightful experience for me to see each week the change in the residents I have lived with for some time. To see them change has been a delightful tonic. I never thought music and your patience could bring them back to us again. I got a kiss off one of them who recognised me for the first time in a year.”

Besides the benefits to a large number of older people and their families, the project also resulted in the formation of meaningful links between care homes and the wider Suffolk community through an events programme which included  monthly workshops and tea dances and the training provided to care home staff will equip them to continue to deliver music-based activity in the future.