Elderly residents from Keswick Care Home and children aged 10 and 11 from Eastwick School in Bookham are bridging the gap between generations, using music making to inspire confidence and tackle loneliness, anxiety and isolation.

The innovative ‘Together With Music’ pilot, is the result of a collaboration between Mole Valley District Council (MVDC), Surrey Downs Integrated Care Partnership (ICP) and Intergenerational Music Making (IMM). The 6-week pilot follows a time of isolation and has supported those living with dementia and challenging circumstances to create a stronger, healthier, intergenerational local community. 

Each session has been creatively unique, encouraging development and exploration within the music making. This project includes a variety of pre-composed and improvised music making, interactive musical and sensory activities, song-writing, choral singing and musical performances from both the young and old. The sessions, facilitated by senior music therapist Marion Barton, conclude with talking time which gives the young and old an opportunity to establish relationships, share stories and discuss the week ahead.

The aim of this ground-breaking project is to work towards a national best practice model that can be rolled out across the country. Emily Abbott, IMM Programme Manager said: “Music is a universal language, it builds bridges, it transcends age and race and background and generation and is something that everyone can access so easily. Just from that simple sharing of a song, something that’s personal to you, opens up this whole conversation. It expresses who you are, where you’ve been, where you dream of going next.”.

Mole Valley District Council Cabinet Member for Leisure and Tourism, Councillor David Draper said: “Mole Valley District Council is proud to support such an innovative project, which works to improve the wellbeing of Mole Valley’s residents and reduce loneliness by bringing the community together.

“How wonderful that this is a shared experience, spanning the generations. We are thrilled that the pilot has been such a success and look forward to future similar partnership working.”

Rory Collinge, Head of Urgent and Integrated Care, Surrey Downs ICP said: “Partnership working is key to what we’re doing both now and in the future. What we’re trying to do is something really simple, we’re trying to improve the lives of our residents. And by doing that we see the dividends in health, education and social care all pay off”.

Dr Simon Williams, Clinical Director, Urgent and Integrated Care, Surrey Downs ICP said: “Social isolation and loneliness in an aging population has an adverse effect on their health and well-being. Any project we can put in place that helps free these individuals from that isolation will have significant health benefits”.

Sinead Mooney, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adults, said: “This is such a heart-warming scheme which has brought so many benefits both to residents at Keswick and the schoolchildren who have taken part so enthusiastically, and I’d like to thank all who made it happen.  

“This project is a first for Surrey and has the potential to be extended more widely for the benefit of social care and education across the county, helping to bridge generations and strengthen communities.”

Lilian, 97 year old resident, Keswick Care Home said “It’s been wonderful. We’ve been doing all sorts, they’ve been making us laugh and that’s a good thing. They’re lovely children and we’re so pleased that they come and entertain us because that’s what we need, it makes a lot of difference to us.”

Watch this heart-warming film (3minutes 51seconds) and discover more about the Together with Music pilot and Social Prescribing on the Surrey Heartlands CCG website.