Transforming Communities

How do high quality live music performances benefit older people living in care homes?

Live Music Now – BBC Oxford News – 19-06-14 from Live Music Now on Vimeo.

Over the summer of 2014, researchers will be measuring the impact of live music concerts on older people living in a residential care home in Oxford.

The Orders of St John Care Trust (OSJCT), University of Essex and Live Music Now (LMN) have formed a unique partnership to measure the psychosocial effects of high quality live music performances on older people, including those living with dementia.

The study will be run by Dr Murray Griffin and Dr Louise Marsland, of the University of Essex Ageing and Assisted Living Network, and will test a model they are developing to try and capture and measure soft outcomes which demonstrate enjoyment and engagement, such as length of smiles, amount of laughter and participation. Small changes in these indicators can be highly significant for older people. The study will take place at Longlands, a Residential Care Home in Oxford run by OSJCT, where a number of the residents are living with dementia.

Care teams at Longlands and relatives will also be interviewed for their views on the possible impact of the live music concerts on the residents' well-being and in turn how it has affected their understanding of, and relationship with, the residents.

"We are delighted that Live Music Now approached us to undertake this exciting and innovative research. Whilst the use of music in the treatment of dementia is well researched, none has used observation of aspects of engagement via video recording before, during and after interactive music sessions provided by highly talented young professional musicians" Murray Griffin (Lead Investigator)

Specially-trained Live Music Now musicians Dan Walsh and Nic Zuppardi of The Absentees will deliver live interactive concerts during their 10 weeks as 'musicians-in-residence' at the care home. Touted as one of the finest banjo players in the UK Dan Walsh is described as 'the real deal' (UNCUT). His unique and eclectic style, takes in folk, funk, bluegrass and Arabic music. Dan has been working with Live Music Now since 2010 and has performed throughout the UK in hospices, hospitals, special schools and care homes.

"For the past few years, Live Music Now has given me some of the most rewarding work I have ever done, but working as a musician-in-residence in a care home has changed my life forever." Dan Walsh, LMN musician

"We are very grateful to OSJCT for welcoming us and both them and UoE for funding the work. This important study will help to support the growing case for live music as a significant contributor to older peoples' health and wellbeing." Douglas Noble, Strategic Director: Wellbeing, Live Music Now

"Universally across our 71 homes, home managers and care teams recognise the positive impact live music can have upon residents and particularly those with the most profound of dementias. As a Trust, we are fortunate, therefore, that our Chief Executive and Trustees are committed to funding and supporting this project." Victoria Elliot, Principal Consultant for Research & Innovation, OSJCT.

The Order of St John Care Trust (OSJCT) was established in 1991. It is a not for profit charity sponsored by the Sovereign Order of Malta and the Venerable Order of St John.

OSJCT's principal activity is providing care for older people of any background, irrespective of race or religion. Having started in Lincolnshire, running 16 former local authority care homes, the Trust now operates 69 homes and seven extra care housing schemes, across Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Lincolnshire and Wiltshire. Employing some 4,000 staff, OSJCT cares for over 3,500 residents.

The Trust is dedicated to delivering the highest quality, person centred care. Our broad range of services includes specialist nursing and dementia care. In the field of dementia care we are proud to be among the first care providers to employ our own specialist My Home Life Admiral Nurses, who provide support to residents and staff. All our staff receive Alzheimer's Society accredited dementia care training and we are committed to reducing as far as is possible the use of anti-psychotic medication. All our care homes include many design features specially designed to assist and enhance an independent lifestyle for our residents living with dementia, most notably the introduction of a variety of themed destination areas and memory cafes, which are also open to the wider community.

Our ethos of care, which underpins all our activities, is based on our belief that all older people living in our care homes, should be given care, both material and spiritual, that suits their individual needs. We also believe that our residents and day care visitors should enjoy life in an atmosphere of warmth, harmony and understanding, being cared for by people who appreciate their need for privacy and who will respect their dignity and freedom of choice.

To that end, OSJCT is currently involved in an extensive development programme, working in partnership with local authorities and other stakeholders to ensure that our residents and staff can live and work in a modern environment and can benefit from the latest care aids, equipment and technology. We are also committed to providing the best possible training opportunities for our staff in terms of their career progression and personal development.

The study is being funded by the Ageing and Assisted Living Network at the University of Essex. Findings will contribute to the existing body of evidence about the use of music with people living with dementia and be used to inform development of a proposal for a larger scale study and future collaborations.


Live Music Now is the foremost musicians' development and outreach organization in the UK. It is inspired by the vision that by embracing the power of music to transform lives, musicians play a central part in a healthy society. Musicians are selected by audition and are specially trained to work in a variety of settings in the areas of health and wellbeing and children with special needs.

Legendary violinist Yehudi Menuhin founded Live Music Now after witnessing first-hand the benefits of live music on war wounded in veterans hospitals.

LMN aims to bring live music of the highest quality to those for whom access to its benefits is normally restricted, focusing on Wellbeing (particularly older people, including those living with dementia) and Special Educational Needs (particularly children) and to support the professional development of musicians at the outset of their careers, ensuring the highest quality of delivery through a rigorous selection and training process.

The organisation works with over 300 musicians each year, reaching more than 100,000 people through participatory performances and workshops across the UK.

All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) of Arts Health and Wellbeing

This is a timely study as the new APPG for Arts, Health and Wellbeing formally met for the first time in January. Attended by a significant number of peers and MPs from all parties, the group discussed key areas of interest in the field of arts and health relevant to current policy priorities, including dementia. They have agreed a series of events over the next 18 months for parliamentarians to learn about the latest developments in arts and health practice and research. The National Alliance for Arts, Health and Wellbeing, supported by LAHF, will be providing the secretariat for the group and will report on the outcome of the events over the coming months.



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