Transforming Communities

Live Music in Care report: Music benefits the whole care home and contributes to person-centered care

A major new national report is recommending that live music should be essential in all UK care homes. Led by Live Music Now and the University of Winchester, it presents ground-breaking 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.

“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.” – Professor Martin Green OBE, UK Govt Dementia Champion, CEO of Care England


“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.” – Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector, Care Quality Commission


Throughout the world, improvements in medicine, hygiene and nutrition have led to much longer life expectancies. This is a huge achievement for our species. However, it has placed greater strains than ever before on the social systems that support older people, particularly those living with dementia. On top of this, a career in adult social care can be very challenging, and staff ‘churn’ adds significantly to the difficulties placed on care home management. Under such circumstances, many care home managers might reasonably resist the suggestion that they prioritise introducing a new music programme. However, those care homes that have embraced music have seen significant returns on their investment, leading to better living and working conditions for everyone.

LIVE MUSIC IN CARE is the result of a research enquiry that has been 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. They are united in their vision to inspire and support care homes throughout the UK to introduce more and better music engagement for older people.

Over the past three years, the group surveyed the many creative ways that older people engage with music, and explored why the majority of care homes do not regularly offer this opportunity. They uncovered a wealth of evidence supporting the use of music for older people, particularly for those living with dementia. However, they also found there was limited evidence available about how music programmes can impact on a whole care home. 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 showed 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, the report makes a series of practice recommendations about choosing suitable repertoire, the appropriate use of percussion and the importance of managerial support and careful planning.

The full report and a short 4-page summary can be downloaded from: 

“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.” – Sir Vernon Ellis, Chairman of Live Music Now


“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 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.”– Dr David M Walters FRSPH Director of Centre for Arts as Wellbeing


Main project partners and funders: Live Music Now, The University of Winchester, MHA, The Orders of St John Care Trust, The Baring Foundation, The Utley Foundation, The Royal British Legion, the UK Treasury’s LIBOR funds, Sound Sense and Canterbury Christchurch University.


Live Music in Care: A Choir in Every Care Home from Live Music Now on Vimeo.



Partner Organisations

The Centre for The Arts as Wellbeing, University of Winchester encompasses music, performance, dance, movement, literary, visual and other art forms. The centre hosts an evaluation, research, teaching and consultancy programme that explores the impact of arts and culture on health and wellbeing. It has established an evaluation led approach to arts interventions – especially in dementia care – in hospitals, the community and care homes.

Live Music Now was founded in 1977 by violinist Yehudi Menuhin to realise his twin ambitions of nurturing young musicians at the outset of their career and bringing the joy of live music to all.

Each year, Live Music Now delivers thousands of music workshops throughout the UK – in hospitals, care homes, special schools and communities. There are over 320 musicians on the LMN scheme at any time, who are trained based on the latest medical, educational and healthcare research. Since they started, Live Music Now has given over 75,000 interactive music sessions, for over 2.8 million people.

MHA is an award-winning charity providing care, accommodation and support services for older people throughout Britain. They are one of the most well-respected care providers in the sector and amongst the largest charities in Britain, providing services to older people for almost 75 years.  Their aim is to eliminate isolation and loneliness among older people by connecting them in communities that care.

MHA delivers a range of high-quality services to more than 17,800 individuals:

• 10,330 older people supported through 61 Live at Home services in the community

• 2,820 older people living independently in 70 retirement living communities with flexible support and personalised care, with a further seven sites in development

• 4,680 older people living in 88 care homes – residential, nursing and specialist dementia care – with two more in development.

MHA’s services are provided thanks to 7,000 dedicated staff and enhanced by the commitment of 5,500 volunteers.

The Orders of St John Care Trust (OSJCT) operates 71 homes and 14 extra care housing schemes across Lincolnshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, West Sussex and Suffolk.  OSJCT’s broad range of services includes dementia, intermediate, respite and day care, and specialised nursing. Our ethos of care, which underpins all our activities, is based on our belief that all individuals living in our homes, should be given care that meets 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.

Sound Sense is the UK membership body and development agency for community music. Founded in 1991 by the sector, it now represents some 1,000 community musicians, promoting the value of the work and assisting in their professional development. Community musicians work in all areas of disadvantage (health, social care criminal justice and more) and surveys indicate that almost half work with older people, largely singing (43% of our members work vocally).

The Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health, Canterbury Christ Church University was established in 2005 and is a joint initiative between the Faculties of Health and Wellbeing and Arts and Humanities. The Centre is one of the UK’s leading research units in the growing field of arts, wellbeing and health, and is known internationally for its work on the role of regular singing in promoting health and wellbeing, particularly with older people affected by long-term conditions. Research and community projects have involved participants with dementia, Parkinson’s, respiratory illness and mental health challenges.