A unique choir open to all care settings in Gateshead has performed together to the public for the first time.
A pop-up choir made up of residents and staff from Gateshead care settings has made its first public performance at Sage Gateshead.
Since forming last October the Gateshead Care Home Choir only had one group rehearsal ahead of their debut performance.
Instead, the 75 care workers and older people living with dementia have rehearsed well-known and original songs each fortnight with professional musicians Nicky Rushton and Liz Corney.
We were commissioned by the Tyne and Wear Care Alliance to create the choir after funding from Newcastle/Gateshead Clinical Commissioning Group to support care staff training.
Our co-director Alice Thwaite said: "There is now strong evidence that music is a powerful stimulus for reaffirming personal identity and supporting people with dementia to have a better quality of life. Musical emotion and musical memory can survive long after other forms of memory and cognitive function have disappeared.
"People living in 12 Gateshead care settings have been learning different harmonies to the same songs guided by Nicky and Liz. Brought together their sound is incredibly inspiring and an outstanding example of what can be harnessed through creativity.
"Over the past four months the feedback from all those involved has been extremely positive. The Care Home Choir highlights what can be achieved when you support staff to develop singing in care settings under the guidance of professional musicians to raise the quality. The choir has also shown that it is possible for people with dementia to learn new songs."
Among the songs performed on the day were original compositions Salty Air and Tick Tock, created by older people living in a care home.
Anne Laidler, activities coordinator at Lindisfarne Care Home in Birtley, said: “I feel so proud to be involved with the choir. The sense of achievement, happiness and the improvement in the residents’ wellbeing has been wonderful to see.”
Residents from Appletree Care Home in Gateshead, run by Barchester Healthcare, were among those performing.
Elizabeth Brown, general manager of Appletree care home said: “It’s been a real treat hearing residents’ performing at the home. Our Appletree singers love learning the new songs and we’re really excited to be supporting the whole group at the performance.”
The choir is open to all care settings within Gateshead and hopes to perform at various locations throughout 2018.
Care settings wanting to register an interest in joining the choir can email firstname.lastname@example.org