Neil Valentine from the BSO visits a ward in Poole Hospital and performs to dementia patients to show how music can be used to help improve cognitive impairment


Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Arts & Health South West collaborate with nursing staff in Winchester, Poole, and Portsmouth Hospitals to bring live music to dementia patients

The Arts and Dementia Project ‘Music for a While’ is running until December 2015 and sees Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Arts & Health South West working together with nursing staff on acute wards in Winchester, Poole, and Portsmouth Hospitals. They will deliver live music to improve the wellbeing of patients with dementia, and the staff and carers who look after them.

BSO Associate, Neil Valentine, who is part of a team of multi-talented musicians who deliver the BSO’s inspiring Participation programme across the South West will be visiting the acute hospital wards on a weekly basis until Christmas, playing instruments, singing with patients and encouraging interaction and participation.

‘We are so pleased to be working with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra on the Arts and Dementia Project 'Music for a While' in hospitals across Dorset and Hampshire. Music can be incredibly effective for people with dementia in helping them to re-connect with families and bringing back memories through favourite songs and tunes. Music can calm agitation and help with sleep and nutrition, improving patients' experience of hospital and supporting busy staff. We think live music should be provided regularly in every hospital in the country!’ Alexandra Coulter, Director, Arts & Health South West

‘Music for a While really encapsulates all the work we deliver to improve and enhance the health and well-being of people in our region. Music is a perfect outlet for people to express themselves and aid relaxation when they are at their most vulnerable. Working in partnership with AHSW will enable us to embed this work and provide a continuing programme that will benefit patients, their families, carers and hospital staff.’ Lisa Tregale, BSO Head of Participation

The aim is to ensure that dementia patients have a positive experience in hospital when they may be feeling at their most vulnerable and distressed. Music has been shown to benefit people with cognitive impairment and memory loss by enabling emotional expression, reducing agitation and improving sleep, nutrition and fluid uptake. The project has been developed form previous learnings gathered from a pilot project in six acute hospitals across the South West including Dorset County Hospital and Salisbury Hospital.

Researchers from the Centre for the Arts and Wellbeing at the University of Winchester will be evaluating the effectiveness of the project at Winchester Hospital as part of a research and education collaboration with Hampshire Hospitals Foundation Trust. The Arts and Dementia Care Project has been funded by the Wessex Academic Health Science Network and Awards for All Lottery. Improving the care of people with dementia while in hospital continues to be a national priority and at any point a quarter of acute beds are in use by people with dementia.

Please visit for more information about the Arts and Dementia Care project and visit for more information about BSO beyond the concert hall.



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