Greater Manchester Leads The Way In Music-Based Dementia Care

Manchester Camerata and Alzheimer’s Society harness the power of music for those living with Dementia
Evie Whitaker
May 8, 2024

The power of music holds many possibilities and for those living with dementia, a new programme from Manchester Camerata and Alzheimer’s Society hopes to reduce isolation, improve wellbeing and create those all important new connections.

Establishing the UK’s first Centre of Excellence for Music and Dementia, Greater Manchester is leading holistic and community-focused care models with a multifaceted approach, informed by research partner, University of Manchester. 

Weekly Music Cafes across all 10 boroughs and over 300 trained 'Music Champions' will set out to give much needed tailored and consistent support to those with dementia, and their families.

Manchester Camerata music cafe for dementia Gorton Monastery
Manchester Camerata's Music Cafe At Gorton Monastery

Backed by funding support from the likes of Power of Music Fund, Mayor Andy Burnham, and NHS Greater Manchester, this programme comes at a critical juncture. With over 940,000 individuals in the UK currently with dementia, there's an urgent call for innovative methods to support this vulnerable demographic. 

Now, by harnessing the therapeutic power of music and utilising music therapy principles, people living with dementia will come together to sing familiar and well-loved songs in a fun and friendly environment, all while improving brain activity and increasing socialisation. 

Bob Riley, Chief Executive of Manchester Camerata, reflected on the weight of this huge milestone: “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.

“Sincere thanks to the leadership and vision of Andy Burnham, Sir Richard Leese and NHS GM, the National Academy of Social Prescribing, The Utley Foundation, Arts Council England and many others. We appreciate their boldness and commitment to the power of music, and in recognising the outstanding musicians whose passion and commitment makes such an incredible impact on and off the stage.”

Manchester Camerata music cafe for dementia Gorton Monastery
Music Therapy And Familiarity

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham also expressed his admiration for the programme: "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." 

Preparatory work to establish the Centre of Excellence and set up the first Music Cafes will begin later this spring, with the first Music Cafes opening their doors in October 2024.