Music 4 Wellbeing: Bringing Harmony to Life!
Project Category: Community Interest Company
Music4Wellbeing: Bringing Harmony to Life! runs a network of Kent-based community engagement, social support groups to benefit older people living with life challenges, e.g. degenerative ill-health, full-time caring, bereavement, loneliness, other marginalisation situations.
We believe that every individual has the right to be part of their community and to have opportunities for creative endeavour, personal growth and life-long learning regardless of their health or social status.
As our name suggests, we use music and other creative activities to draw communities together to foster new learning, meaningful social interaction, physical and mental wellbeing, and cognitive functioning at a time when some or all these life elements are compromised. Currently, 11 M4W groups meet regularly to share activities led by M4W’s trained and experienced Therapeutic Arts Practitioners. M4W’s aim is to support individuals over a prolonged period, and to provide activities free at the point of delivery.
The context of our work relates to demographic data on older people in Kent. For example:
Loneliness and Long-Term Ill-Health
Around 29,500 people aged 65+ in Kent live alone. Risk factors include having at least one long-term health condition, the rate of which is expected to increase in 65+ age group from 120,000 in 2012 to 145,000 in 2020 (Kent Public Health Observatory [KPHO] 2018).
The incidence of dementia in Kent is expected to rise from under 20,000 in 2012 to c. 25,000 in 2020) (KPHO, 2017, Dementia p. 2). KPHO states: ‘Kent’s vision for Dementia Friendly Communities is an inclusive community where people living with dementia and their carers are active participants within community life’ (KPHO 2018:7). Relating to the urgent need to stem the rise of dementia, Panitsides (2014) highlights the importance of cognitively stimulating, educational interventions to support cognitive and social functionality.
The number of carers in Kent in 2015 was c. 151,000. The Kent Community Health Trust (KCHT) recognise the challenges faced by carers and the need for support in the community, which links to the national Care Act, 2014 (KCHT, 2015. A Carers Involvement Strategy).
National guidelines for improving QOL for older people have informed M4W’s work. For example:
- The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence recommendations for better mental health, includes access to creative group activities (e.g. ‘singing and dancing’) for all older people (NICE, 2015)
- Definitions of good health increasingly emphasise ‘positive social and personal resources’, and the ability to self-facilitate ‘activity and participation’ (World Health Organization, 2001)
- The arts and health movement has gained political traction propelling an argument for the systematic inclusion of creative activities to support mainstream healthcare services (All Party Parliamentary Group for Arts and Health, 2017).
- The Five Ways to Wellbeing includes, ‘keep learning’, ‘take notice’, ‘connect’ (Aked et al. 2008).
M4W positions itself within these contexts and aims to support existing public and voluntary health and wellbeing services for older people.
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