Partnerships with the University of Manchester and HKD Research are piloting new ways of capturing the impact of our projects with older people. We believe that research and evaluations of projects should be creative, because the projects are creative themselves.
In 2015, we welcomed Robyn Dowlen to the Camerata team. Robyn is undertaking a three-year ESRC-funded joint PhD studentship with the University of Manchester, aiming to measure the ‘in the moment’ embodied experiences of people living with dementia whilst taking part in music-making sessions through our Music in Mind project.
Robyn’s background is in psychology, having completed a degree in psychology at Cardiff University and Masters in Research (MRes) at the University of Manchester. During her undergraduate degree Robyn undertook her placement as a Research Assistant at the Cerebra Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders at the University of Birmingham. In this role she was involved in projects researching social anxiety, and executive functions in individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders and was able to see the direct impact research findings could have on these individuals.
Robyn is also a Dementia Friends Champion, delivering information sessions to groups of individuals in a wide range of settings to help break the stigma associated with dementia. She is also an accomplished singer and violinist.
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Evaluation Outcomes: Six Care Homes in Greater Manchester
Between October 2015 and March 2017, HKD Research Ltd conducted an evaluation of Music in Mind in six care homes in Greater Manchester. The evaluation examined the impact on participants’ social, communication and musical skills, on their mood, and on their carer’s wellbeing. It confirmed positive impacts on all of these factors and also highlighted that these benefits increased over time:
- By week four of the project, there was an increase in 90 percent of the participants’ social, communication and musical skills, and in their mood
- There was also a decrease in their levels of anxiety, frustration, repetitive behaviour and agitation
- By week 7, there was a notable change in almost all of the participants
- If they attended the sessions each week, the results were greater, and attendance that exceeded ten weeks further benefited the participant’s communication and social skills, as well as relationships with other people
- Carers valued our interactive and person-centered approach, that the same facilitators delivered the project each week, and that every person with dementia was included in the sessions in some way
- The benefits for the people with dementia had a positive impact on the carer’s personal mood and on their workload
- The participants took part in more activities outside of our music sessions, and carers started to see how capable they are.