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Research show music and movement improves the wellbeing of residents in care homes

Updated: May 10, 2023

Among all the doom and gloom emanating from the cost-of-living crises, public sector workers strikes and ‘Putin’s’ War, it was good to hear some good news. Namely that hundreds of care home residents across Scotland are set to benefit from a popular programme that has proved the benefits of music and movement to older people in care homes.

Balhousie Care Group

The award-winning Balhousie Care Group, is extending the programme to its 26 care homes following a successful pilot study in 10 homes.

The Balhousie Care Group began working with online music and movement provider danceSing Care earlier this year as part of a study with the University of Stirling into how to improve healthy ageing.

University of Stirling’s Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport

The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Stirling’s Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, followed 47 Balhousie Care Group residents over 12 weeks and tracked improvements in their mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. “The changes to our residents’ wellbeing was notable. They looked forward to these online sessions, it bonded them as residents, and it brought them closer to staff too. We are so impressed with the impact that we decided to extend this to all of our homes, starting immediately,” said Karen Johnson, Quality Director at Balhousie Care Group.

Balhousie Coupar Angus

One of the homes that took an active part in the study was Balhousie Coupar Angus in Perthshire, where Activities Coordinator Patrycja Dwojak, who led the sessions. Patrycja said: “The sessions are about more than standing and sitting exercises. The music and the bespoke radio shows and concerts sparked memories. That has a big impact on our residents’ health, both physical and mental.”

Morag Shea, Home Manager at Balhousie Coupar Angus, said: “The danceSing Care sessions have become quite the event for us. We make a space in one of the lounges and the number of participants has been growing. With all the activity, excitement and music, the feelgood effect extends to other residents and staff. I’m delighted that this will keep going and extend to other care homes in the group.”

danceSing Care

Natalie Garry from danceSing Care said: “It has been an absolute pleasure to work with the Balhousie team and we are thrilled to be rolling out danceSing Care group-wide to improve wellbeing through music and movement, following positive resource evaluation in partnership with Stirling University. At a time when the sector is facing unprecedented challenges, the resilience and positive attitudes of everyone involved has been simply phenomenal. It means we are teaming up for better results, sharing learning, and are without a doubt stronger together through partnership and collaboration to enrich the lives of staff, residents, and their families.”

Results of the study

Professor Anna Whittaker of the University of Stirling’s Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, who led the research, said: “The pilot study had some extremely promising results, showing the positive impact that music and movement can have on care home residents and staff. We’re pleased to see this programme extended and hope it encourages other care home operators across the country to implement this type of initiative.

Professor Whittaker added: “In the next stage of the research, we will be working with selected Balhousie care homes to conduct a pilot randomised controlled trial which will also assess elements of physical function and biomarkers of stress.”


According to the Social Care Institute of Excellence the adage ‘music is medicine’ may literally be true – singing and making music can boost the immune system and reduce anxiety. But even more important is that making music is fun to do individually or in a group.

The initial results of a Study into the benefits of music and movement in care homes seems to bear this out. According to staff at Balhousie Care Group changes to residents’ wellbeing who took part in the programme were notable. The Quality Director at Balhousie Care Group should be commended for seeing the value of the programme and agreeing to its expansion to all its 26 care homes.

A great deal of research has shown the benefits of music and movement in care homes. Sadly, it has also shown there are still for too many residents in care homes who are not offered the benefits of music and movement. Hopefully, the experience of Balhousie Care Group may encourage more to do so.

Albert Cook BA, MA & Fellow Charted Quality Institute Managing Director Bettal Quality Consultancy

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