Transforming Communities

Live Music Now at the National Care Forum

On Monday 4 November, the National Care Forum held its annual conference, bringing together managers and senior leaders from care homes throughout the UK. LMN was invited to address the conference, together with the Music for Dementia 2020 campaign.

As part of the opening address from NCF’s Policy Director Lis Jones, LMN’s Evan Dawson and Grace Meadows from M4D2020 gave a short overview of the important role that music can play in the care of older people, particularly those living with dementia – as well as their carers and families. They invited delegates to come and meet with them during the day, to discuss their own experiences of music, and what barriers are stopping them from doing more of it.

During the day, together with LMN musician Julia Turner, and OSJCT Activity Coordinators Ewa Cwilkak and Sarah Davis, we brought creative music making to the conference exhibition space. Julia’s “hapi drum” was a particular hit.

Delegates gave a wide range of answers to our questions about the state of music within UK care homes, telling us of many different approaches, using instruments from around the world. However, many also told us that, although they understood the value of music, they didn’t know how to approach it. Others were concerned that it might be too time-consuming or expensive, unaware of the many different types of music practice that they could use. It is clear that better guidance and sector leadership could enable much more music to happen. This is what we are working towards, together with M4D2020 and several other national partners (more info at

Towards the end of the afternoon, we took to the stage again. Evan and Grace presented the latest evidence about music for those living with dementia, and the comments that they had received from delegates during the day about their current approaches to music. Ewa and Sarah discussed their own unique approach to music and Monkscroft care home (Cheltenham); and Julia closed the conference with a joyful participatory performance, drawing on music that had been created by a children’s project, working with the residents at Monkscroft. The day finished with a song about chickens, with featuring hundreds of care home managers clucking and squawking happily. It was a perfect example of how music can bring creativity and warmth to any group setting.


“Your interaction with delegates as well as your presence within the exhibition was a key part of putting together a coherent programme which brought together key messages to empower managers to be the change they want to see. Julia’s performance lifted the delegates and we closed the first day on a high – all clucking!

In such difficult times for the sector, it felt a very powerful opportunity to be holding an event which is looking forward and supporting providers from across the not for profit sector to think about how they can develop and evolve to meet the needs of communities and citizens of the future – and you are undoubtedly a fundamental part of that future.”

– Helen Glasspool, Events and Partnership Officer, National Care Forum

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