Music in Mind Remote, a spinout company from The University of Manchester’s Innovation Factory, has been awarded over £1m for the UK’s first Centre of Excellence for Music and Dementia hosted by Manchester Camerata.

Music In Mind Remote, a joint venture between Manchester Camerata and Innovation Factory, has developed a music-based therapy for a positive impact on the lives of dementia sufferers, their families, and the carers that support them.

Academically developed by The University of Manchester’s Prof John Keady and Dr Robyn Dowlen, Music in Mind’s transformative therapeutic music-making system for people living with dementia consists of structured music-making often facilitated by a member of the Camerata.

The award has created the Power of Music Fund (established by the National Academy for Social Prescribing, the Utley Foundation and Arts Council England), Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and the NHS Greater Manchester.

The funding will support three years of direct musical support activities across all of Greater Manchester’s 10 boroughs, starting in October 2024. Music in Mind sees the Camerata work with Alzheimer’s Society and the University of Manchester to offer research-backed music cafes in each of the 10 Greater Manchester boroughs.

The Camerata and The Alzheimer’s Society will recruit, nurture and train a volunteer and community workforce of over 300 ‘Music Champions,’ helping to support over 1000 people living with dementia in Greater Manchester across three years starting from October 2024.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “This is fantastic news for Greater Manchester, and a reminder of the power of music to shape our lives and our communities.

“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.”

Bob Riley, Chief Executive of Manchester Camerata: “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.”

The University of Manchester and the NHS will undertake anonymised data-driven research into the impact and power that the music sessions have for people living with dementia and how they can reduce pressure on hard-pressed frontline NHS and social care staff. The research will demonstrate the impact of embedding music support as part of dementia care.

Alzheimer’s Society’s Singing for the Brain brings those living with dementia together to sing a variety of songs they know and love, in a fun and friendly environment. Being able to convey emotions and expression via instruments is invaluable to individuals whose cognitive abilities have degraded to a non-verbal state.

In addition to the Centre of Excellence in Greater Manchester, the Fund is also awarding small grants to 70 grassroots music and dementia projects across the UK and will support more than 5500 people in total.

In many regions of the world, because of increasing life expectancy, dementia is impacting more and more people. Total healthcare expenditure for dementia treatment and palliative care in the UK alone totals more than £34.7 billion which, following current trends, is projected to increase 172% to nearly £60 billion by 2040.