Social Enterprise heads a new initiative to pair care home residents with musicians to trial an innovative approach to community care for those living with dementia.
A community programme kicks off this new year which pairs people living with dementia and musicians. Connectforce Community CIC, a start-up social enterprise, leads this project and collaborates with National Lottery and other funders, charities and local Camden care homes. It builds off separate work in the community by Connectforce, Age UK Camden and Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Connectforce Community CIC is a social enterprise building connection, creativity & confidence within marginalised communities through collaboration with a network of artists.
They connect with those facing social exclusion with arts professionals, creating outcomes of confidence and communication.
Connectforce is a social initiative born out of the Covid-19 pandemic to provide UK care homes and housing associations with electronic communication devices.
Having evolved since its conception in 2020, Connectforce continues developing virtual and in-person programmes to tackle social isolation and exclusion amongst communities in need.
The latest programme, Musical Companions, will engage older people living with dementia living independently in the community and care homes.
Participants are introduced to a ‘musical companion,’ singers, musicians and professional performers and encouraged to connect over a video calling device during the programme.
The impact of loneliness and well-being
Approximately 885,000 people live with dementia in the UK. By 2040 this figure is predicted to almost double to 1.6 million.Dementia costs the UK £37.4bn every year. The health and social care costs of dementia are more than those of cancer and chronic heart disease combined.
Sadly, there is a lack of support after diagnosis, and consequential loneliness has been identified as a risk factor for functional decline.
Music and its role in aiding care in the community
As dementia progresses, music can enhance communication and well-being. Music stimulates different parts of the brain and can help the person to express feelings and connect with memories.
“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” - Victor Hugo.
Slowly but surely, there is a growing movement to incorporate music as an integral part of healthcare. It's a cost-effective and transformative approach to community care for its most vulnerable individuals.
‘Musical Companions’ launching in Camden and other London Boroughs, January 2023
Connectforce has developed virtual programmes targeted at these ‘in need’ groups to create meaningful connections and tackle social isolation.
The 6-week programme offers older people living with dementia to be paired with a ‘Musical Companion’ from the art world. Companions will meet online to enjoy music from past and present - sing together, enjoy listening to music, and experience the magic of music to connect generations.
Victoria Basten, co-founder and Performing Arts Tutor, adds,
“Musical Companions is an opportunity to use the magic of music to connect people across generations. We have experienced first-hand the connections built - it's truly magical to witness the power of music in overcoming social barriers. We can't wait to expand this opportunity to harness more artists’ unique skills to spread joy to the most vulnerable in our society.”
Musical Companions Helga (81) and Katharine (33), met once a week to enjoy everything from German Opera to Doris Day.
“What you have done is an incredible thing. It has really improved Helga’s well-being because she is always smiling.” - Telma, Helga’s care provider
Notes to editors:
This programme is led by Connectforce Community CIC, which brings together a host of care homes and charities to collaborate to support those most vulnerable. Connectforce would like to thank the National Lottery and the Allen Lane Foundation for choosing this programme to help.
Musical Companions will commence at the end of January and connect artists from all over the UK to care homes residents in Camden and surrounding areas.
The process is simple: Connectforce will pair care home residents with volunteer virtual ‘Musical Companions’, with whom they will share music and songs through video calls. Companions can share their favourite music from the past and present. The friendly volunteers are all fully trained and DBS checked and will be personally matched to each individual.
Volunteer companions are all professionals from the arts sector. They’re confident communicators and have excellent empathy and openness, making them ideally placed for this scheme. Companions are an opportunity to harness artists’ unique skills to spread joy to the most vulnerable in our society and provide fulfilment and inspiration for themselves.
With a network of over 100 artists, Connectforce work with communities to combat social isolation by building programmes to enhance connection and confidence. Through one-to-ones, mentoring, and group workshops, we bring together artists with people of all ages who would benefit from support.
Our other programmes:
Connectforce Companions - a virtual befriending scheme connecting professionals from the art world with older people in care homes.
Get Vocal Youth - drama-based confidence and communication training to support 16-25 from marginalised communities to build the transferable skills to help them to strive for their goals.
Get Vocal Business - a corporate communication programme for businesses to creatively improve their workforce and support their community with 1/2 the profits funding the above two community programmes.