“From the moment he joined Songs & Smiles, his face lit up”

Evaluating the impact on care home residents at risk of social isolation and those living with dementia.

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Songs & Smiles has one primary aim: to bring joy to everyone that takes part. From tiny babies through to centenarians, we’ve witnessed the happiness that coming together to sing, move and play can create.

Many of the care home residents who attend are living with significant challenges; two of the most common are dementia and a risk of social isolation. We wanted to evaluate the effect that Songs & Smiles has on people in these circumstances and turned to our friends at Lakeview Care Home in Lightwater, Surrey to help.

Lakeview is part of the Hallmark Care Homes group, with which we formed an exciting partnership earlier this year. We’re rolling out our groups to all ten of their England care homes, starting with Lakeview, which launched in September.

The Lakeview team compiled Impact Reports for a number of residents attending the sessions and have kindly let us share excerpts with you. They feature people deemed by the team to be at risk of social isolation or who are living with dementia. Pseudonyms have been used to protect confidentiality.

This evaluation is part of an ongoing programme, which will look at the longer-term effects that Songs & Smiles has on the people taking part.

Case study 1: female assessed as at medium risk of social isolation


AA tends to spend most of the day in her bedroom, except for meal times. AA receives regular visits from her family, but is quite a quiet person so doesn’t normally communicate with other residents.

Songs & Smiles Impact:

AA was hesitant to come to the activity, but chose to attend and see how it all worked. After a few minutes, AA’s face lit up when she saw the children moving around on the floor and she was pointing and smiling.

AA was actively involved in all aspects of the activity; singing, using the instruments and at the end, AA held one of the babies and commented to one of the other residents at “how lovely she (the baby) is”.

Case study 2: male assessed as at medium risk of social isolation


BB spends most of his time in his bedroom, out with his relatives or sitting near the reception area. BB has been recently diagnosed with cancer and has been known to shout at team members and other residents on many occasions if he doesn’t get what he wants in a timely manner.

Songs & Smiles Impact:

BB had visitors at the beginning of Songs and Smiles, but his visitor encouraged him to attend the session and they would wait outside. BB was keen to come and have a look and did come in and sit down with the children, making comments about how wonderful they were. As he had visitors waiting, BB moved from the lounge and sat in a chair in the corridor, but could still see the session.

A Lifestyles team member took one of the babies to see BB afterwards, and BB was stroking the baby’s feet and laughing.

Later in the evening, a team member heard BB call his daughter and tell her about his day; how he loved seeing all the children and how she should come next week to see them.

Case study 3: female living with dementia


CC attends most group activities at Lakeview, but doesn’t always participate and will sometimes get up and leave. CC regularly wants to leave Lakeview and go for a walk to find her family. CC doesn’t sleep much, and walks down the corridors frequently.

Songs & Smiles Impact:

Before coming to Songs and Smiles, CC was pacing the corridors and was in a low mood. At first, CC didn’t want to come in to the session and wanted to stand outside and watch. After a few minutes, one of the Senior Carers approached CC and asked her to come in and sit next to her. CC came in to the lounge, but didn’t appear to engage in the activity until one of the songs came on that she knew – CC then started singing and using the instruments and coloured scarves. At the end of the session, I asked CC if she enjoyed it, and CC started smiling and said it was good. CC was visually happier and her low mood had changed following the Songs and Smiles session.


Case study 4: male living with dementia


DD is very sociable with other residents at Lakeview and will attend most scheduled activities. DD is very helpful and will often assist other residents and team members to complete a task. DD can get emotional when listening to certain songs or talking about his wife, so the team should be aware that this can occur during activities and be sensitive to his needs.

Songs & Smiles Impact:

From the moment DD joined Songs and Smiles, his face lit up. DD chatted to the children’s parents/guardians and told them about his wife and his love of children. DD engaged in all aspects of the activity; playing peekaboo and singing along to all of the music. After one of the sessions, DD told the other residents (who weren’t at the session) how they should have come to see the little children and how happy it made him.

Find out more about our friends at Hallmark Care Homes on their website, Facebook and Twitter.

Louise Goulden