bringing communities and care together

connecting communities to anderson’s


The Innovation School are collaborating with Anderson’s to innovate perceptions of ‘care home’ by exploring community connections and social wellbeing, and identifying ways in which human rights can be practically applied for people affected by dementia. The project is funded through the ‘Rights Made Real in Care Homes’, Life Changes Trust programme and aims to involve the wider community to diversify Anderson’s and develop a roadmap that demonstrates opportunities for integration with the community as a way to support public understanding of dementia and promote positive attitudes.

The legacy of Anderson’s has community at the heart tracing back to the origins of the care home as a gift to the community for the ‘education of young and care of old age’. This project aims to develop this legacy and support the rights of residents by actively involving them in shifting perceptions of ‘care home’ to a community-based organisation that extends beyond traditional boundaries and overcomes existing perceptions and stereotypes. By extending reach to the wider community, the project can also support positive public attitudes and understanding about dementia.

The project aims to understand perceptions and develop a ‘redefinition’ of ‘care home’ through co-design with residents, staff, families, volunteers and wider members of the community. The development of person-centred interventions will explore the role of music and other media to support people affected by dementia to tell their story, support their personhood and identity, identify needs and aspirations, and explore opportunities to widen social interaction that extends to the wider community.



This project aims to employ a rights-based approach to redefine Anderson’s and wider perceptions of ‘care home’ through co-design with residents, staff, families and the wider community. The project will overcome existing perceptions and stereotypes by developing opportunities for community-based interventions that evidence the practical application of the rights of residents.

The project will:

  • Develop an understanding of current perceptions of ‘care home’ and dementia of the local community and develop these insights in to concepts and ideas that support the redefinition of Anderson’s ‘care home’ and promote positive attitudes among the general public.

  • Support the development or improvement of services at Anderson’s through co-design with residents and staff that actively support a rights-based approach and demonstrate practical application.

  • Identify opportunities for community engagement and provide a roadmap to how such opportunities could be implemented by Anderson’s.

  • Identify opportunities for people affected by dementia to develop their personal identity, quality of life and wellbeing through music-based interventions.

  • Support the development of music-based interventions that increase opportunities for social interaction among residents, carers and the wider community, enhancing wellbeing in the broadest sense.



The design-led approach of the project is aligned to, and underpinned by, the principles of the Health and Social Care Standards to ensure those who participate feel respected, are met with compassion, are involved in the process and supported to participate, and finally, that their wellbeing is protected and promoted in an ethical manner.



Room where the researchers could stay. Credit: Yoni Lefevre

Room where the researchers could stay. Credit: Yoni Lefevre

Spending time at Anderson’s
Joining different activities supported the researchers to familiarise their presence in the care home for residents, staff, volunteers and family members. In addition, it helped the researchers specific practical and social skills when preparing for planned research interventions that requires engagements with people living with dementia.


Stories of Anderson’s
Through a set of questions the researchers captured people’s experiences of living, working or visiting Anderson’s. This resulted in an audio podcast that aims to share an intimate portrait of the daily life inside this big and iconic building that is strongly related with Anderson’s. The audio was used as an engagement tool during the pop-ups that supported conversations about people’s wider understandings of care homes.

The tools used during the interviews. Credit: Yoni Lefevre

The tools used during the interviews. Credit: Yoni Lefevre

Pop-up in the foyer of Dr. Gray’s Hospital. Credit: Yoni Lefevre

Pop-up in the foyer of Dr. Gray’s Hospital. Credit: Yoni Lefevre

With several pop-up engagements in Moray the researchers explored people’s current perceptions of care homes. Members of the community living in Moray had heard of Anderson’s but most had never visited the care home. In general, people who already had some experience within a care home, e.g. in their profession or visiting relatives, were more positive compared to others who did not have any previous experience. Therefore, bringing the wider community into a care home through different activities is a way to break down the current stigma and preconceptions of care homes. Mixing generations, bringing in pets, more personalised care and avoiding a hospital setting were suggestions about preferable future care homes.


Workshops: Exploring the role of music in Anderson’s

In the first workshop residents, staff and volunteers were invited to share their personal connection with music and what they find important when organising different music activities. Music can either be very uplifting, relaxing and happy or sometimes sad but either way it often brings back memories with residents living with dementia. The findings of the workshop provided input for a community workshop that explored how the community could be more involved in organising musical activities.

Credit: Caroline Inckle

Credit: Caroline Inckle

Credit: Caroline Inckle

Credit: Caroline Inckle

Credit: Caroline Inckle

Credit: Caroline Inckle

Credit: Yoni Lefevre

Credit: Yoni Lefevre

Two smaller workshops were organised in the care home to invite members of the community who were interested in supporting more community musical engagement. It was an opportunity for people to meet each other and share ideas of possible new music activities that would encourage more interactions with the residents. For example “Curious Minds” and “VIP” from a local nursery were looking to meaningfully engage children when visiting the residents or a local singing group were looking for new ways to be involved as a volunteer. We came up with the idea of organising a new “music” programme spread over three days in the beginning of August to test out all the different ideas e.g. a music karaoke quiz, intergenerational music sessions, and a movie night for people living in sheltered housing to come into the care home.

Credit: Yoni Lefevre

Credit: Yoni Lefevre

Personal music sessions

Alongside the wider community music activities, the researchers explored how music could be used as a tool to build relationships with residents, understand what is important to them and hear their stories. Residents shared a range of songs that reminded them of a key moment in their life and talked about the way music made them feel.

More sessions are planned with residents and family members and also group music sessions in the different units to encourage interaction through singing and playing instruments. All the collected songs will eventually become the very first Anderson’s playlist.


Anderson’s “Community Medley”

We have been exploring the role of music in the care home through a variety of engagements e.g. interviews, workshops and music sessions. In collaboration with the activity coordinator at Anderson’s we organised three full days of different music activities to test new ideas together with the wider community. Below you can see the program.


The project will generate insights on the current understanding of public perceptions and attitudes towards care homes and dementia. Through co-design and public engagement, opportunities to promote positive attitudes and ways in which Anderson’s can forge relationships with the wider community will be identified.

Secondly, the project will generate understanding of the human rights of people affected by dementia and ways in which these can be practically applied across care home interactions and services. The co-design activities which will directly involve people affected by dementia, other residents and staff will seek to identify how rights can be realised.

Another key outcome of the project will be to enhance the wellbeing of people affected by dementia, other residents, staff and the wider community through designing and trialling person-centred music-based interventions which engage Article 8 of the Human Rights Act (1998).

A range of visual and text-based outputs will be created bespoke to each audience, as well as a live performance/exhibition to allow people to ‘experience’ the impact of the project.

for more information:

Dr. Tara French |

Yoni Lefevre |

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We would appreciate reflections and feedback from people who were involved in any of the activities.

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