Current Research 

Experiences of Being: The benefit of drama, music and dancing in improving the wellbeing of older people in care homes (Published 2017)

The Beth Johnson Foundation (BJF) and older people's charity, Anchor, have launched a new report that recommends the innovative use of drama, music and dance in care homes to help people living with dementia.

'Experiences of Being' details the use of drama, music and dance in 17 care homes across Surrey run by Anchor, England's largest not-for-profit provider of housing and care for older people. The report shows the positive effect it has, particularly for those living with dementia, the biggest cause of death in the UK.

The study, funded by the Beth Johnson Foundation, found that creative activities can soothe and stimulate at the same time, bring back memories from the past, and help to engage underused but still active areas of the brain.

With research from Dementia UK showing that one in three people born in the UK will develop dementia in their lifetime, the study was commissioned in response to the need to improve the quality of life for those living with the condition.

For six months, Anchor trialled the integration of drama, music and dance workshops into its dementia care offering the sessions at 17 of its care homes in Surrey, with over 200 residents benefitting from the scheme. With many proven benefits, all participating homes have since introduced the workshops to the list of activities full-time.

The benefits included improved wellbeing and an increased quality of life. Positively impacting mental health, the workshops strengthened the self-esteem and self-confidence of residents. While musical activities helped improve cognitive ability and memory recall.

On a physical note, the sessions inspired increased movement and physical exercise from residents through the encouragement of dance or subtle actions with hands or feet.

BJF and Anchor hope the report encourages all those working with older people across the UK to consider the use of arts-based activities to bring positivity and creativity into the lives of those living with dementia.

This work is endorsed by Russell Grant, a passionate supporter of dementia research having lost his beloved grandmother to Alzheimer's: he was her carer for nine years. Russell comments: "As our understanding of dementia increases we realise how enjoyable creative arts can be, not only for people with dementia but for their families too. Whether it's listening to music, dancing, painting or colouring. There may not be a cure for dementia yet but one of the biggest lessons I've learnt is to make the most of the time you have left, and to have fun together while you still can."

Linda Marlowe who played the part of Sylvie Carter in EastEnders for over two years (Sylvie had dementia) said : "I had done some research back before I got the role of Sylvie because there was a one woman show I had intended to do about somebody with dementia, and I visited this beautiful care home down in Cornwall. I was there for three days spending time with the residents who had dementia to various degrees. This was invaluable in playing my role in EastEnders. I am now committed to promoting the use of drama and the arts to make a positive difference to help those who are living with dementia"

The report is available to download below or for a hard copy please contact debbie.everden@bjf.org.uk

Giving a Voice (Published 2017)
This is a review, published by BJF, and carried out by the University of Salford of advocacy work undertaken over recent years by BJF. The work has been concentrated on two projects focused respectively on meeting the different needs of people with dementia and people with cancer.
 Advocacy is a simple but important concept. It effectively helps to provide a voice for individuals whose needs may not be being met. This ranges from simply providing emotional support to people able in some measure to represent themselves, to more formally representing and ‘advocating’ on behalf of clients who are less able to articulate their own needs, to a range of agencies.
 The advocate also helps people to navigate the systems that patients need to deal with, including those of the health, social services and benefits agencies. For anyone having to deal with such systems for the first time, the task can be daunting.
This report highlights some of the outcomes from BJFs advocacy work, and some lessons for the future. The topics explored are potentially relevant for all of us as we get older, as well as for our friends and relatives. The report also usefully helps raise awareness of the stereotypes and the ignorance that surround some health conditions.
Overall, the report finds that BJF’s  approach in both of the areas where we have delivered an advocacy support service – cancer and dementia – has had a very positive impact on people’s lives.

The report is available to download below or for a hard copy please contact angela.tunnicliffe@bjf.org.uk

Ageing in the UK Now (Published 2016)
This short report, Ageing in the UK Now, is an opening review of areas where organisations interested in the field of ageing can make a significant impact, and assist in understanding where future initiatives might be focused. It is effectively a scoping exercise outlining areas of research and developing practice relevant to the UK’s ageing sector, and mapping these against the wider political and social agenda.
At this stage this report should be viewed as very much an introduction to this area, and a snapshot on what is going on. It will be especially helpful to those who are new to the areaof ageing. This can be used as a tool that can be used to begin to explore relevant topics to the field of ageing. Part of our report also includes a bibliography and a compendium of resources.
Our intention at Beth Johnson (BJF) it to grow and expand on this opening review, update it on a continuing basis and also produce a regular bulletin which provides information on new research and developing themes in areas relevant to ageing.

The report is available to download below or if you would prefer a hard copy please telephone 01782 844036 or email angela.tunnicliffe@bjf.org.uk

Our Voices (Published 2016)
– the experiences of people ageing without children: report published on 16 May 2016:
“I don’t think people at the government have the faintest idea how many of us there are. If they did, I think they’d be worried!”

 While there has been extensive and widespread coverage of many ageing related issues, the issue of being old and without children has received virtually none. 1 in 5 people over 50 have no children yet there is little understanding, discussion or consideration of how this may impact on individuals, services for older people and the wider community.
 ‘Our Voices’ details the experiences and thoughts of this hitherto invisible group of older people – those ageing without children. It tells individual stories of people ageing without children and highlights the key themes and issues that affect them.
 Themes highlighted in the report include:
·         being judged unfavourably by others for not having children;
·         the feeling of not being noticed and feeling ‘invisible’;
·         the lack of practical support when there is the expectation that your children will look after you;
·         losing touch with other generations as you get older
·         no one to tell your story for you or, even remember you.
 Produced by the organisation, Ageing without Children (AWOC) and funded and supported by the Beth Johnson Foundation (BJF), ‘Our Voices’ tells individual stories of people ageing without children and identifies the key themes and issues that affect them along with recommendations for possible solutions.
The summary and full report are available to download below or if you would prefer a hard copy please telephone 01782 844036 or email angela.tunnicliffe@bjf.org.uk


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