Greater Manchester first ‘Centre of Excellence’ for music and dementia

First such Centre of Excellence in the UK is awarded more than £1m through the Power of Music Fund to support research-based music therapy. 

A pioneering initiative is being launched to demonstrate the benefits of prescribing music to people living with dementia. That includes improved quality of life, and reductions in both loneliness and pressures put on the NHS. 

person playing guitar

Photo by freestocks

From October this year, an award from the Power of Music Fund of more than £1m will support three years of direct musical support activities across all 10 Greater Manchester boroughs. The therapy programmes are ‘Music in Mind’ (run by Manchester Camerata) and ‘Singing for the Brain’ (run by the Alzheimer’s Society) – to offer musical support to people living with dementia across all of Greater Manchester. Hosted by Manchester Camerata, the project is backed by Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and NHS Manchester. 

The team behind the project will work with the University of Manchester and the NHS to gather and analyse anonymised data to provide insights into the impact of such therapy.  Manchester Camerata and the Alzheimer’s Society will also recruit and train a volunteer and community workforce of 300 new ‘music champions’ to deliver music cafes across Greater Manchester, which will support more than 1,000 people living with dementia in the region. 

The Power of Music Fund – established last year by the National Academy for Social Prescribing, Arts Council England and the Utley Foundation – is also awarding small grants to some 70 grassroots projects relating to music and dementia, supporting more than 4,500 people across the country. Funds will be delivered at local level and targeted to parts of the country with greatest needs. The aim is to cover basic costs such as room hire and travel, while enabling joy and connection through the use of music.  

Those in receipt of awards will also be supported through connections to the wider health system, with the aim of improving access to activities and strengthening links within communities. Development opportunities, evaluation, peer support, resources and training will also be made available. 

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, says: ‘We are genuinely delighted by this news. We are proud of all our partners, particularly Manchester Camerata, who helped bring it about. We are a music city-region and will now work to unlock its full power for the benefit of our residents with dementia.’ 

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