Posts By / Anthea Innes

A model Institute?

The Byrd Institute, Tampa, Florida is an interesting example of an inter-disciplinary academic institute in practice.  I presented there earlier this month, Raising awareness of dementia: disseminating research via public engagement activities, which ties in with recent developments in this primarily NIH funded unit which is part of the University of South Florida. We toured the labs, where staff and students work alongside each other with mice at one end of the lab to computer images of human brains at the other. The second floor of the building is dedicated to screening for dementia and provides an example of dementia friendly design where people with dementia and their families spend the day going through the variety of tests that will lead to an often long awaited diagnosis of dementia. The Byrd Institute began as an independent unit on University property before becoming part of the University. Staff from across Faculties work in or are linked to the Institute providing an excellent exemplar of inter-disciplinary working. From screening in retirement villages to recuriting participants to clinical research trials this institute is slowly building a large data base of people with dementia as well as adults with early signs of mild cognitive impairment in a region known for attracting retirement migrants. They are now committed to enhanving their public outreach work and have recruited a social scientist to take this forward in the coming months. They have a wish to raise awareness of dementia within their local community and will achieve this by an ambitious outreach programme which will also contribute to increasing their pool of potential research participants in future clinical, neuroscience and social science projects.

Intergenerational working

Earlier in the month as part of a whirlwind three State visit to the US we visited one of three  Intergenerational Schools in Cleveland, Ohio. This model of education has two distinct programmes to promote learning and working between the older and younger generations. The first is a ‘buddy reading’ system where older people living in the community come into the school to read with pupils. Every pupil receives 2 x 20 minute sessions with an older person per week to enhance their reading skills. A second programme involves every class in the school visiting one of thirty-one care facilities (day care and long stay care) in the area once a month where pupils work with older people on a range of projects. The image attached is one art project  where pupils visited the care home and worked with people with dementia residing in one of Clevelands premier care facilities, Judson to create these banners that hang in the entrance to the care facility. These two initiatives demonstrate the possibilities for learning and working together in meaningful ways benefitting both older adults and school children. We have been experimenting with intergenerational working here at Bournemouth via a Tech Group facilitated at The Bourne Academy where school pupils have welcomed people with dementia and their carers into their schools to work together in an after school club where they have been learning to play on the wii, xbox and ipads together. This way of working offers opportunities to educate younger generations about dementia and to combat associated stigma, ignorance and fear of what it might mean to live with dementia. To paraphrase some of the words of the School Principle in Cleveland, who I found truly inspirational, the younger we start to educate our children about life and the challenges it can throw at us the better prepared they will be to contribute as active citizens in our society.

BUDI Orchestrat – a FIF CCCP project report

At the beginning of 2014 BUDI was lucky enough to secure FIF CCCP funding to set up the BUDI orchestra, a partnership project with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra supported by BU Music Scholars and other students. I blogged about this during the rehearsal period and after the performance at the Festival of Learning, but as the project officially comes to an end as we write our final report I am blogging a final time to give a little update. First we won a poster prize two weeks ago at the 7th International Rural Dementia Summit running concurrently with the 7th Safety and Health in Agriculture and Rural Health Populations conference in Saskatchewan, Canada and Canadian colleagues are now interested in setting up their version of the BUDI orchestra in two provinces. We also secured some further funds to extend the project and are currently rehearsing for an informal Christmas performance that will take place in the Atrium/Starbucks on 12 December, do stop and listen as you enjoy your coffee! If any member of staff/student would like to join us as we rehearse, particularly anyone with a strong singing voice do get in touch with Laura ( can give you more information about our rehearsal schedule, as we are missing our BU Music Scholars this time round who led the singing part of the rehearsals so well in the initial project. We also secured funding from the Dorset Legacy Fund to begin a new orchestra project and this will commence in January 2015. We have submitted a larger grant application to conduct a multi-site study but we have a few months to go before we will hear if we are successful or not. We have received extremely positive feedback from our participants, students and BSO colleagues who have been part of the initial and ongoing project extension and the idea has been favourably met at regional and international conferences where we have shown the video we created documenting the project. The BU FIF provides an excellent opportunity to conduct pilot/proof of concept work and we are grateful for the funds received enabling us to undertake this work which has been the most fun project I’ve been involved with to date.

First Wessex Dementia Conference

Tuesday 14 October saw the first Wessex Dementia conference hosted by Public Health England, NHS Wessex CSN and The Wessex AHSN. The turnout was much larger than expected demonstrating the increase in interest, enthusiasm and energy surrounding the dementia field. The timeline in the image attached shows just a small selection of projects about dementia that are happening in our region across the dementia timeline; that is from pre-diagnosis, diagnosis, post-diagnostic support to end of life care. BUDI’s work spans this care spectrum but only a handful of our projects are on this timelines as at BU alone we have been involved in 50 dementia projects in the last 2 years (we presented on our Orchestra project with the BSO, the 10 agency partnership project on Dementia Friendly Communities in Dorset we were part of, and the NHS Dorset Memory Advisory service we evaluated as well as having a very popular stand; orange stress balls proved to be particularly popular for our hard working clinical and practice colleagues!)  Taken together with the work of our colleagues from the voluntary, statutory and private sectors alongside our academic colleagues based at other Wessex Universities there is now a critical mass of work going on in our region which bodes well for those who might be affected by dementia in the future in Wessex but also for those currently living with dementia who are participating and hopefully benefiting from the groundswell of commitment to improving not just the diagnostic rate in our region (which two years ago was one of the lowest in the country) but to providing high quality support and services.

Making a Difference with Music

I have to admit I was not having the best of weeks but being part of the BUDI Orchestra’s penultimate rehearsal yesterday was, as one of the participants said to me at the end the session, ‘better than therapy’. 

Some of the highlights for me of this week’s session were a couple celebrating their 59th wedding anniversary by bringing chocolates and biscuits to share with their orchestra friends and telling me this session was the ideal way to celebrate this pretty remarkable period of marriage; another couple who had told me they have been having difficulties communicating reaching out simultaneously for one another’s hands when Moon River was playing; and having people with dementia and their carers tell me that attending this group is the highlight of their week, indeed that they need no persuasion to get out of bed knowing they have their music group to come along to; and to hear that they consider the members of the group their friends. This all demonstrates the true achievement of the BSO musicians, BU students and my team members in rising to the deceptively simple challenge I set for this project: to create an atmosphere that was welcoming, fun, promoted equality between everyone, and where having dementia was not to be the guiding factor, rather for everyone to be part of a ‘normal’ group where people would learn and work together. And they have achieved this in spades!

Seeing for myself the progress and development in those with dementia who have participated over a 9 week period makes this project worthwhile. For example a man, who on week one who was having trouble remembering how to play his double bass (even though he didn’t need much encouragement to teach me some basic notes), now jamming with the professional musicians; how another man, who brought his mouth organ to the first session and began to recall how to play, now plays all the pieces by ear and is smiling from ear to ear after the session ends. Seeing the relaxation and concentration on participants’ faces who had been anxious about first week, but who are completely in the moment and whose verbal communication skills have, to me, taken an absolute upturn, and who now chat easily and at length during the break and at the session end. For example, one participant invited me to their previous home if I was ever passing, it doesn’t matter that they live in Dorset now and were talking about their old address, the important thing is they have increased their sense of social confidence and are reaching out and connecting with others, something that is, all too often, sadly lost by others failing to accommodate the communication needs of those with dementia.

 Have a look yourself at one of the items that will be performed by the BSO and BUDI Orchestra at the Winton life centre on Saturday 14 June, 11am, as part of the BU Festival of Learning programme. I’ve already shown this  to whomever I met yesterday afternoon, and the surprise on colleagues’ faces when they understood that this was a group of people with dementia who had only been rehearsing for 9 weeks and the majority of whom had never played an instrument before was fun to see! Moving from playing, to singing to body percussion in one piece is challenging and demonstrates the development in learning the musicians have enabled over the sessions.

 To me, this project is a way to challenge the misconceptions and myths people hold about people with dementia not being able to learn and participate to a high level. I wish I could bottle the benefits that I observed in our participants, and, actually, the benefits that I have gained from being a small part of a truly special group that has created an amazing sense of community with acceptance, fun and friendship at its core.

 The group are already feeling the loss of these sessions as they know they only have one more rehearsal and then the performance and then our FIF funding stops. Yet this is what I would say is true impact: yes, we have the papers and other academic impact values, and we will seek to publish after the sessions end and the follow up period data is collected, but to see the development in how the professional musicians work with those with dementia, most who in the main had not worked with people with dementia before and their absolute engagement and commitment to creating a positive experience for the group; to see how our students have grown in confidence, and the relationships they have built with individuals with dementia is fantastic and demonstrates the impact of learning together. But most of all, to hear about, and see first-hand, the pleasure and benefits for those living with dementia and their carers makes this the best project I’ve ever had the pleasure of being part of, and if anyone has ideas about finding ways to fund this project beyond its research parameters as an on-going community engagement project, please do let me know!

Learning the Italian way

Last week we were on a study visit to Italy and were lucky enough to visit and meet Italian colleagues from four regions who are doing some pretty innovative work in their respective work places. Of particular interest to us was a museum project in Rome (given our visit to MOMA last year and the workshops they delivered last month for staff and students and also museum and heritage workers from across the UK), and two music projects, one a music therapy project in the North of Italy run, and another violin group in Rome (as we have our ongoing BSO/BUDI orchestra project) but what I ended up being surprised and really excited about was the work of a colleague, Dr Andrea Fabbo, a geriatrician who is responsible for dementia services for the Local Health Trust in Modena, an area devastated by an earthquake a few years ago but with the silver lining of many new dementia projects being funded as a result. The images included in this post are great examples to ‘myth bust’ the risk aversion that is often shown to those living with dementia. Those who attend the services in Modena are encouraged to cook, to garden and to swim, normal activities that are too often denied to those living with dementia who may lose some of their abilities to undertake such tasks and rather than assist them to retain their skills with the changes in their cognitive abilities too often these tasks are performed by others in well meaning attempts to provide the support people with dementia need. We were lucky to meet innovative academics and practitioners on our trip, but our Italian colleagues were clear that these type of project are highly unusual in Italy where a traditional clinical approach is taken based on a biomedical understanding of dementia, but as you can see from the images here Andrea and his team have created a fantastic example of psycho-social support for those living with dementia that promote social inclusion and fun for those with dementia.

MoMA lead the way – what does this mean for the UK?

BUDI were delighted to welcome colleagues from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York to Bournemouth University from 20-23rd May 2014, thanks to Fusion Investment Fund Mobility Strand Funding. Our local partnership working was put into practice to host international workshop leaders attended by participants near and far. MoMA’s specially trained Museum Educators ran two workshops in which they shared their successful model and established approach for making their services dementia-friendly (validated via evaluation from New York University). These workshops showcased their innovative style of education delivery, and provided attendees with an opportunity to hear the success of their approach and view a practical demonstration in a gallery or museum space.

 On 21st May 2014, 15 members of BU Staff and PhD Students took part in a free workshop at Talbot Campus and in the Atrium Art Gallery. This was followed on the 22nd May 2014 with a second workshop at Poole Museum which was attended by 40 participants currently working in museums, art galleries and the wider heritage sector, from as near as Poole and as far as Paris. During this workshop participants learnt how they could implement these approaches within their individual organisations. Participant’s fed back how useful they found the workshop:

  • It was a really good insight into what it’s like to provide for people with dementia. It was great to spend time looking at the paintings in the museum in a new way.
  • I will adopt my art gallery sessions to follow many of MoMA’s techniques.
  • I found the workshop both enjoyable and constructive and hope BUDI will run others on related topics.
  • Very well facilitated, clear well structured presentations. Very useful for my professional work.

We look forward to seeing how the participant’s learning translates into their future practice, and the wider impact of this approach within museums, art galleries and the heritage sector in the UK. We would also like to thank Poole Museum for kindly providing the venue and refreshments for the second workshop.

Michelle Heward

Progress with making music

This week I went along to the half way point in the rehearsals for the BUDI orchestra and as promised from my first post about this work here is a link to short video clip

(this was rather difficult as I managed to record my clips upside down on my iphone (how is that possible??), as well as create huge file sizes from 30 second clips, but thanks to David Stone in M&C we now have something postable that hopefully gives a bit of a flavour of the sessions- despite my very amateur recording skills! but do come to their performance on 14 June at the Winton Life Centre as part of the BU FOL!)

My observations of the process this time centre around three things – first, the strong sense of a social group that has been created/formed by all involved, from the friendly welcomes, the catch ups over coffee and the general encouragement the group offered each other during the session. Second, I was also pleasantly surprised that carers sought me out to thank us for putting this group together and to share the positive impact they had observed themselves during the sessions on their relatives with dementia, but also how friends and family at home had also remarked on a positive visible difference in their relatives. 5 sessions and observed differences – is this the power of music? I was also struck by the questions asked of me about ‘would the group continue’ and as with any short ‘intervention’ type study feel the weight of not being able to promise to deliver again on something that is being hugely enjoyed by participants (and which we all hope will evaluate positively in a research sense – but only time will tell…). I guess this lack of being able to promise to continue with a service is kind of like service providers with limited budgets and short term initiatives… Hopefully we will secure funding to enable this work to continue, as even the community musician from the BSO with huge experience of outreach work feels this is a ‘very special’ project with amazing and fast results that everyone involved is observing.  From week 1 where participants were nervous about trying out the instruments to now being very comfortable with playing around with (lots of experimentation in terms of how to hold a violin in a comfy position) and actually playing the notes. I was also struck by carers telling me of their attempts to ‘practice’ at home – downloading or recording the pieces they have been introduced to during the sessions and singing, humming and dancing along at home – as unfortunately the violins cannot go home with the participants – and how enjoyable they are finding the sessions beyond coming along to the rehearsals themselves. My final observation is also the growth in confidence of the musicians, our students as well as those with dementia and their carers in how they relate to one another, how they try out new pieces and are no longer as hesitant to experiment as they were in the first session. The combination of body percussion, instrument playing and singing that the musicians have created by paying close attention to how everyone responds has led to a session format that is uplifting, fun, creative while also creating intense concentration amongst all participants as they learn and work together. I wish I could find time in my diary to attend all the sessions as they leave me feeling upbeat and positive; something that was clearly evident not only from what I observed but from what I was told by everyone in the session yesterday.

Free places for BU staff at Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) workshop 21st May 2014

Thanks to FIF Mobility Strand Funding, Bournemouth University Dementia Institute (BUDI) are delighted to be welcoming colleagues from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York to Bournemouth University from 20-23rd May 2014. As part of their visit, BU Staff are being invited to join a free workshop. In this workshop MoMA’s specially trained Museum Educators will share their successful model and established approach for making their services dementia-friendly (validated via evaluation from New York University).

This workshop showcases MoMA’s innovative style of education delivery, providing attendees with an opportunity to hear the success of their approach and a practical demonstration in the Atrium Gallery. Staff with an interest in alternative teaching methods and those working with vulnerable groups may be particularly interested in attending. Please also pass on this information to any PhD students you feel may benefit from attending.

Date: 21st May 2014
Time: 11:00 – 15:30
Venue: Talbot Campus

There are a limited number of places available on this workshop for BU staff. To book a place, or for more information, please email or call 01202 962538.

Please be aware that spaces for this workshop are limited, and will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

Making music

Today was the first session for our rehearsal for the BUDI orchestra. We (BUDI team and the BSO players) had no idea how this would pan out as this is the first time that we are aware of where people with dementia have been given the opportunity to work alongside orchestra musicians and to gain confidence/ relearn or to learn for the first time instruments. It was something of a leap of faith to try to do this based on a hunch I had that if people can come together as a choir could we not also do this as an orchestra? Anyway, I was completely humbled by the successful use of the creative skills of the BSO musicians and BUMusic scholars as they led an initiative for those living with dementia and their family members and support workers today. As a result I have decided to do a regularish piece on my observations of the process (not the actual research which we are doing as part of FIF grant) as the sessions progress that will then culminate in a BU FOL performance on the 14 June at the Winton Life Centre. The photo gives you an idea of what happened, and when our video clips become available I will post these, but it was amazing to experience people with dementia who had lost their musical skills or perhaps more accurately their confidence bringing their instruments – a double bass and mouthorgan and regaining their musical confidence to play alongside the professional musicians. And perhaps more amazing that some of our participants who had never touched a string instrument learn some notes and then play a piece, Bolero, together –  and some other classical piece that I had never heard of before (I am not a musician). I too managed to play a few notes on a violin, or maybe it was a viola, anyway the community musician knows his stuff and directed us all to enable the musicians to get us all to play something – and in relative harmony! Two of our BUMusic scholars, while a little hesitant initially, then took the initiative to lead some of the singing that was part of this initial rehearsal and again their skill in using their talents to engage and encourage the group was amazing to watch. I had the pleasure of being taught how to play a few notes (badly) on the double bass by one of our participants with dementia which was probably the best part of the morning for me. I have a soap box position that many will have heard before about how when someone has dementia it is possible to continue to learn new things and also for people with dementia to help us learn new things. Today was just another inspiring example of that.