Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale music and arts therapy scheme

What we did

Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale piloted a music and arts therapy scheme. The pilot included training for staff as part of an enrichment programme based on the Pendine Park model in Wrexham. The aim was to enhance confidence to run music sessions.  The pilot also included sessions to enhance staff wellbeing through music.

The project involved two musicians from the Hallé running 1hr to 2hr sessions for people living with dementia, where they interacted with the musician and conducted the music.  The musicians spent time with each person and played an individual piece of music that was unique to that person, developed from their body language and hand movements. The person with dementia became the ‘conductor’ which was very empowering and very well received by everyone.  The group came together to sing, dance and play percussion instruments.  Staff were also encouraged to take part.

The musicians from the Hallé delivered approximately two music sessions a month to:

  • The Willows, a specialist dementia care home and day care provider
  • Beechwood Lodge, a residential care home who specialise in dementia care
  • The Oasis Unit, an inpatient ward at Rochdale Infirmary for older people with dementia and physical ill health

To provide a taster session of the music project the Hallé Orchestra extended the work into a number of other care homes. The project was supported by the Alzheimer’s Society who attended each of the sessions and fed back their observations and findings.

Evaluation results. It was apparent during each session that people living with dementia became more alert and engaged as soon as each session started. Some introduced the song and told their story, which related to the song and were invited to start the song on their own, then for everyone to join in. The sessions evolved naturally in response to the people with dementia. The sessions were very inclusive and all about engagement. They involved everyone, including people with mobility problems, and people with word finding difficulties.

I will always remember at one of The Willows sessions, there was a gentleman in a wheelchair who didn’t really seem to be engaging at the start of the session, his eyes were shut and his body language was closed. He opened his eyes as soon as the music started and his arms and legs started to move in time to the music. It turned out the he used to be in a band and was a drummer. Dementia advisor, Alzheimer’s Society

Each session showed the importance of music to the mental health and wellbeing of people living with dementia.

Recommendations. Due to the positive observations and clear benefits to the people living with dementia, their carers and staff who had taken part in the programme Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale commissioners would like to continue with the Hallé project Hallé musicians are currently furloughed so this is pending at the moment

Any information required, can be accessed from Sarah Kay HMR Clinical Commissioning Group  sarah.kay12@nhs.net

Back to main locality project page