The National Academy for Social Prescribing plans to launch a new investment partnership supporting grassroots music for dementia projects, kickstarted by a £1 million donation by the Utley Foundation.

The National Academy for Social Prescribing [NASP] has announced plans for a new funding programme with money to be made available for projects that provide musical activities for people living with dementia.

As the UK-wide champions of ‘social prescribing’, NASP is proud to be leading this project in partnership with The Utley Foundation, which funds the Music for Dementia campaign and which has announced a £1 million donation to kickstart the investment partnership. NASP will be seeking to secure up to £10 million in funding in total ahead of the programme’s official launch, slated for later this year.

This announcement comes in the wake of a major new report [1], launched by UK Music and Music for Dementia earlier this week, which sets out a blueprint calling on government, health, care, music, philanthropy and third sectors to invest in and capitalise on the power of music.

The programme hopes to address some of the points raised in the report. Funding will be pulled from a variety of sectors and delivered at a hyperlocal level. As the owner and facilitator of this investment model, NASP will be well placed to act as a conduit between these two groups – grassroots project delivery and policy making – and will be able to gather evidence of the impact of these projects, feeding back to key stakeholders.

With dementia numbers rising [2], grassroots, community based solutions are imperative to improve the quality of life for people across the country.

An estimated 209,600 people [3] will develop dementia this year, which will cost the UK £34.7 billion, more than the cost of cancer and chronic heart disease combined [4]. This does not include the hidden costs paid for by people living with dementia and their families.

Music therapy is a proven solution to this ever increasing problem, with research showing that it is the best type of therapy for reducing the behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia [5]. Not only does it improve quality of life, it can also reduce agitation and the need for medication in 67% of people with dementia [6]. People like Greg who contributed to the Power of Music report [7].

Greg is retired, and has been caring for his wife who has Alzheimer’s for 10 years. Together, they took part in group singing sessions run by a local university. The difference it made was remarkable.

Greg said: “What I witnessed at these sessions was quite amazing, really, people could be transformed by music, they come alive again.”

James Sanderson, CEO of NASP said: “At NASP we really believe in the power of social prescribing: supporting people to connect to information, the arts, nature, and physical activity to support their health and wellbeing. As we evolve as an organisation, are always looking for ways in which we can facilitate the kind of activity we know really works.

“There are benefits to living in an ageing society, but it unfortunately also means that we are seeing an increase in the number of people living with complex conditions such as dementia. As the Power of Music report demonstrates, music can have a truly transformational effect on people living with dementia. With this fund, we hope to make the ‘Power of Music’ more widely available to everyone.”

Sarah Metcalfe, Managing Director at The Utley Foundation, said: “The Power of Music report provides a blueprint for how we can make music an integral part of dementia care and calls on government, philanthropy and industry to combine forces to fund it. The Utley Foundation is delighted to announce this award of £1million to NASP, which we hope will kickstart further investment from others.”

About the National Academy for Social Prescribing

We are an organisation dedicated to the advancement of social prescribing through promotion, collaboration and innovation. We work to create partnerships, across the arts, health, sports, leisure, and the natural environment, alongside other aspects of our lives, to promote health and wellbeing at a national and local level. We will champion social prescribing and the work of local communities in connecting people for wellbeing.

Our objectives are to

  • Make some noise – raising the profile of social prescribing
  • Find resources – develop innovative funding partnerships
  • Build relationships – broker and build relationships across all sectors
  • Improve the evidence – shape and share the evidence base
  • Spread what works – promote learning on social prescribing

About The Utley Foundation

The Utley Family Charitable Trust, was established in May 2014, through donations from Neil and Nicky Utley. Music is a personal passion of the trustees and underpins many of the key funding areas of interest to the foundation. The trust has broad charitable objectives and primarily donates that to causes that are close to the hearts of the trustees.

[1]  Link to Power of Music report 

[2] Alzheimer’s Society (Online) 

[3] Alzheimer’s Society (Online) 

[4] Raphael Wittenberg, Bo Hu, Luis Barraza-Araiza, Amritpal Rehill, Projections of older people with dementia and costs of dementia care in the United Kingdom 2019-2040: 3. 3-6.

[5] Abraha I, Rimland, JM Trotta FM et al. Systematic review of systematic reviews of non-pharmacological interventions to treat behavioral disturbances in older patients with dementia. The SENATOR – OnTop series.

[6] All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts Health and Wellbeing, Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing 2017, Older Adulthood, Music 8.6.4, 133

[7] Quote taken from real individual who responded to a survey organized by UK Music and Music for Dementia for the Power of Music report. Names have been changed and personal details have been removed.