Everyone can write a song – reflections on the Carers’ Music Fund
Since March 2019, the Spirit of 2012 Carers’ Music Fund projects have been using participatory music-making activities to improve the wellbeing and loneliness of female carers.
We know that music making with others is one of the happiest things you can do and can create lasting meaningful connections that improve lives. This project builds on our previous evidence reviews on music and singing, loneliness and adult learning which suggest this is a promising way to improve wellbeing and tackle loneliness and also starts to fill an evidence gap.
Our Centre has led the learning partnership for Fund alongside programme evaluators Apteligen, Carers UK, and the Behavioural Insights team. As the 2-year programme comes to an end, we publish our final briefing in a series of learning insight reports on the Carers’ Music Fund projects.
Take a look at our previous insight reports on the Carers’ Music Fund:
- Read the first insight report in the series – When we sing it sounds like there are more of us: Findings from the first cohort of the Carer’s Music Fund
- See how projects are sustaining a wellbeing focus through the pandemic
- Listen to the podcast: Singing hurries along friendship: a Carers’ Music Fund insights podcast
Our final briefing sheds light on some of the key insights from our partnership working and findings from the programme-level evaluation. As a What Works Centre, we are keen to promote learning and ensure that wellbeing evidence reaches decision-makers in an accessible, relevant, and credible way. We have worked with Spirit of 2012 to ensure that a wellbeing lens was used to plan the design, delivery and evaluation of the Fund, as well as to support the projects in their learning.
Between March 2019 and June 2021, Carers’ Music Fund projects designed, delivered and evaluated their activities using the growing evidence base on the wellbeing benefits of music and singing interventions. Funding was given to projects that showed a commitment to test and learn different pathways to wellbeing, and to share their learning with others.
At the heart of the Fund was a ‘test and learn’ approach which is refining engagement and delivery strategies throughout the course of the programme. This built-in flexibility helped projects adapt delivery and learning during the Covid-19 pandemic as they developed successful strategies to meet the changing demands of digital delivery.
Key findings from the programme evaluation published today present findings on the wellbeing, loneliness and social connectedness of over 700 beneficiaries engaged between September 2019 and June 2021:
- The Carers Music Fund engaged individuals with low wellbeing and high levels of loneliness. The wellbeing of carers recruited after March 2020 was compounded by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, which increased the overall burden of care as local services were reduced or cut and worsened feelings of stress, social isolation and overall wellbeing.
- By the end of the programme, average scores for personal wellbeing improved across projects and cohorts and there were fewer individuals reporting feeling very lonely.
- There are multiple pathways to wellbeing improvements through music-making and singing activities, although building connections, improving confidence and skills, giving carers a voice are among the most prominent outcomes.
- Music-making and singing projects that are accessible, promote social connections and use high quality music leaders and session facilitators are key success factors.
- Having a pre-existing interest in music, a desire to learn or to connect with other people make interventions more likely to succeed