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Cheltenham Scouts and residents at Windsor Street Care Centre sing together for an intergenerational music project

Local Scouts have been visiting residents at Windsor Street Care Centre, a care home run by The Orders of St John Care Trust (OSJCT), for regular music sessions as part of a Gloucestershire Academy of Music project, called Stand By Me, to encourage social singing and interactions between generations.

Care home residents, some with dementia, and members of the 10th Cheltenham Scouts Group and parents, have been coming together monthly on a Tuesday night to sing together. Each session was led by Gloucestershire Academy of Music musician and teacher Becky Chevis. Pieces included older songs known to residents, familiar children’s songs and nursery rhymes. During the sessions, residents and Scouts chose actions to perform alongside the singing.

These events support the confidence and wellbeing of all those who participate. As a form of play and recreation singing helps to improve an individual’s mood and reduce stress.

Bill, a new resident at Windsor Street Care Centre, was especially pleased to meet the Scouts and told them about his role as a leader of the 1st Cheltenham Scouts Group, which he took on when his three sons were young.

In another session, two residents shared tales of travelling across the Yorkshire Dales on motorbikes, which led the group to create new verses of ‘She’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes’.

The project has been driven by Becky, who has experience of working as a carer and is passionate about the power of music to benefit residents, including those with dementia, as well as people in community groups such as the Scouts.

Becky said: “Running these music sessions in local care homes has been rewarding for everyone involved. Children thrive on the extra attention they get from the residents who, like grandparents, are keen to interact and praise the children. Each session is very playful and accessible for everyone, including people with dementia, as we interact in the moment. Music can also be calming and reduce agitation. I’ve found that familiar songs bring children and older people together in a way that feels natural rather than patronising.”

Beata Beevor, Windsor Street Care Centre’s Activities Co-ordinator, who has been arranging these events in the care home over the last six months, said: “These sessions are a fantastic addition to our busy programme of events and activities at the care home. When the children come to sing you can feel the happiness all round. We can see that age isn’t a limit to enjoying and participating in activities.

Becky has been offering music sessions in care homes and running a Dementia Choir since 2018. She also arranged Zoom sessions when homes were affected by Covid-19. Another OSJCT care home, Monkscroft Care Centre in Shelley Road, also hosted Becky for a number of intergenerational singing events with St Thomas More School during the project.

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