Dementia Inclusive Choirs Network

National project
Award: £125,000
Timescale: 2019 - 2021

Project aims

The project’s overall aims are to:

  • increase the number and accessibility of choral singing opportunities for people living with dementia in Scotland 
  • increase awareness and understanding of the positive impact of singing in choirs for people living with dementia 
  • improve the quality of choral singing opportunities for people living with dementia 
  • ensure that people living with dementia have a voice in the development of choral opportunities in their local areas 

Background

Luminate is Scotland’s creative ageing organisation, and aims to ensure that older people in Scotland have the opportunity to take part in high quality arts and creative activities, whatever their background and circumstances and wherever they live. The organisation supports older people as artists, participants and audiences; nurtures skills development in artists of all ages who wish to work with older people; researches, develops and tests new models of creative practice; and challenges stereotypes of ageing.

Since Luminate’s launch in 2012, all of their work has taken a collaborative approach, with older people and other local partners (most often artists, cultural organisations or care providers) having ownership of the projects that happen in their area; this has been key to Luminate’s ability to effect change in communities across the country. The inclusion of people who are living with dementia and their carers has been an increasing focus for them and - as with all aspects of their programme – they approach this work collaboratively, working with community participants, cultural organisations, third sector and care providers to ensure that the projects they offer are the best they can be.

Luminate aims to be the lead partner in the creation of a Dementia Inclusive Choirs Network for Scotland, working with Age Scotland, Scottish Care and Making Music.

 

More Information

Luminate, Age Scotland, Scottish Care and Making Music want the network to ensure that high quality singing opportunities are available to people living with dementia across Scotland. Integral to this approach is a commitment to ensure that people living with dementia have a voice in this process, that choir leaders and organisers understand the needs and wishes of the people they are working with, and that the music making is accessible, fun, and offers opportunities for all singers to learn, develop and to have a sense of achievement. 

As the lead partner, Luminate will have overall responsibility for the network and will appoint a Network Manager to run the programme of activities, coordinate the partners and ensure there is regular communication between all stakeholders. They are keen to engage groups who focus on people living with dementia and their carers, as well as the many choirs in local communities whose work could become dementia inclusive with the support that this new network will provide. They will also seek to encourage and support the development of new groups, helping them to overcome barriers and increase their confidence. 

The Choirs Network’s objectives are to:

  • increase the number of dementia inclusive choirs across Scotland
  • establish mechanisms to ensure that the voices of people living with dementia and their carers shape the work of the network
  • facilitate dissemination of information, and sharing of experience and peer support across dementia inclusive choirs in Scotland
  • make it easy for people living with dementia and their carers to find out about dementia inclusive choirs in their area
  • increase the accessibility of choirs across Scotland to people living with dementia and their carers 
  • improve the quality of choral leadership in dementia inclusive choirs through a training programme
  • support choirs with their organisational needs
  • address a range of support needs identified by choir leaders and by people living with dementia 
  • explore the need and most cost-effective model of continuing the network’s work after the funded programme ends 

Luminate will establish a database of dementia-inclusive choirs, and of choir leaders with experience/training in leading dementia-inclusive activities, as well as an online portal which shares information for individuals on how to find a dementia-inclusive choir locally, and a suite of resources for choir leaders and organisers.

They will offer various training opportunities to choir leaders and organisers, including dementia inclusion training, as well as a small grants programme for new and existing choirs. Luminate will organise a series of network events across the country, each developed in partnership with a local collaborator. The collaborator could be a local authority arts officer, a community organisation, a cultural organisation, a health body or an individual choir. The network events will involve local singers as well as choir leaders and organisers. 

The Choir Network was launched in May 2019 during the Luminate festival, with a culminating symposium and large-scale singing event planned for spring 2021.

Here is a dementia inclusive choir in action. They are called Every Voice Choir, run by Bryan Marshall, and they are part of our West Dunbartonshire community.

Outcomes we'd like to see

For this project, we would like to see the following outcomes:

  • more people living with dementia have the opportunity to sing in a local choir 
  • more people living with dementia and their carers choose to sing in a local choir
  • choirs and individual musicians across Scotland have a better understanding of the positive impact their work can make to the lives of people living with dementia 
  • singers, choir leaders and programme partners develop new and stronger skills in choral leadership and dementia inclusive practice 
  • choirs and singing groups across Scotland introduce mechanisms to consult people living with dementia in the development of their work 

Additional Information

Find out more about Luminate on their website.