More than £1 million worth of funding has been committed to enable Manchester to become the UK’s first Centre of Excellence for Music and Dementia.

Hosted by Manchester Camerata, the significant fund has been committed by Andy Burnham, Sir Richard Lees (Chair of the NHS Greater Manchester) and the National Academy for Social Prescribing’s Power of Music Fund.

The project will receive support from the University of Manchester and Alzheimer’s Society. The funding will allow Manchester Camerata and Alzheimer’s Society to continue their groundbreaking research-based music therapy programmes – Music in Mind (Camerata) and Singing for the Brain (Alzheimer’s Society) – to offer more musical support to people living with dementia across Greater Manchester.

According to the NHS, there are over 940,000 people in the UK who have dementia with 1 in 11 people over the age of 65 being most affected. Alzheimer’s Society suggests that by 2025 there will be over 1 million people with dementia in the UK, projected to rise to nearly 1.6 million by 2040.

Currently, the care of these people in the UK costs over £34billion per year. The long-term goal of this iniative is to leverage the knowledge and research built up over the next three years to analyse how the implementation of music in dementia care can reduce the need for health and care services whilst simultaneously improving quality of life.

This successful bid will see both organisations run four weekly music cafes in each of the 10 Greater Manchester boroughs. Together they will collaborate with the University of Manchester and the NHS to undertake anonymised data-driven research into the impact and power that these music sessions have for people living with dementia and how they can reduce pressure on frontline NHS and social care staff.

Manchester Camerata and Alzheimer’s Society will recruit, nurture and train a volunteer and community workforce of 300 ‘Music Champions’ who will be trained to deliver the Music Cafes, helping to support over 1000 people living with dementia in Greater Manchester across three years starting from October 2024.

Research and data analysed by the University of Manchester will demonstrate the impact of embedding music support as part of dementia care and how this model can be scaled up and rolled out across the UK.

Bob Riley, Chief Executive of Manchester Camerata, said: “This is a colossal moment built on over ten years of work and research in partnership with The University of Manchester. We know it will bring much-needed support for people living with dementia and their carers. It will create new opportunities for our amazing musicians in the UK, and bring about changes in the way we invest in music to bring the widest possible benefits to society.”

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “This is fantastic news for Greater Manchester, and a reminder of the power of music to shape our lives and our communities. Manchester Camerata have played a key role in our Music Commission, and I’ve seen firsthand the transformational impact of what they do in our city-region. They are the ideal partner to pioneer the UK’s first Centre of Excellence for Music and Dementia, working with the Alzheimer’s Society to unlock the potential of music as therapy.

“This project will provide life-changing support to people with dementia and their carers in our 10 boroughs – support that is grounded in our communities and delivered with a real expert focus. It will also generate groundbreaking research that will influence health and care policy across the country while directly improving lives across Greater Manchester.”

Image credit: Jay Cipriani

Bradley Lengden
Published on:
Thu 16 May 2024