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Project information

The Endless Imagination Project

Creative approaches to improving wellbeing and care relationships for older people living with dementia in residential care. Working in three care homes in Tower Hamlets, we will deliver music/dance/poetry sessions for older people and care workers to unlock their creativity and agency.

January 2019 - December 2019

Charity information: Spitalfields Music

Spitalfields Music logo
  • Need


    Low-levels of health and wellbeing in older people in Tower Hamlets are of significant concern, particularly for those living in residential care and those with dementia who face:
    1. Limited opportunity for physical and mental activity, negatively impacting mental and physical health
    2. Social isolation and loneliness
    3. Loss of self-identity and self-expression
    4. Lack of personalised, responsive care, meaning residents often feel isolated and disempowered


    The Endless Imagination Project is an innovative cross-arts project in three Tower Hamlets care homes, which will reduce isolation, reimagine care relationships, and improve the wellbeing of up to 100 older people. Through weekly interactive creative sessions led by professional artists, we will unlock the creativity and agency of older people, and upskill care workers to deliver more responsive, personalised care that maintains dignity and improves wellbeing.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Residents have improved wellbeing and quality of life


    » 8x weekly multi-arts sessions in each care home involving residents as creators and performers as well as listeners and observers
    » Relaxed celebration event each year to share work created and welcome visitors into the home

    What success will look like

    Demonstrable signals of wellbeing including decision making, emotional responses, eye contact. Increased physical, mental and creative activity observed.

    Aim 2

    Improved quality of care relationships


    » Training and hands-on experience for staff in responsive, creative care
    » Toolkit created to support staff to continue this way of working

    What success will look like

    Care staff report increased confidence and understanding around person-centred creative care approaches; management observe improved care relationships over long-term.

    Aim 3

    More volunteers and visitors engage with care homes and reduce isolation of residents


    » Local people and community groups invited to end of project celebration events
    » Training for volunteers to engage with residents in creative, personalised ways
    » Toolkit created to support volunteers and visitors

    What success will look like

    Increased number of volunteers and visitors; visitors feel more comfortable engaging with residents using creative tools; care homes begin new relationships with local groups.

    Aim 4

    Creativity and agency of older people living with dementia is celebrated and championed


    » Celebration events at the end of each 8 week project, open to local community and sector experts
    » Our project is evaluated and shared online, at conferences and through existing networks

    What success will look like

    End of project sharing event attended by significant partners from care and arts sectors, and local decision-makers. Learning shared online and at conferences.

  • Impact


    • Ongoing increased wellbeing of residents
    • Care homes undertake significant shift in how they see care relationships; creative, personalised care is embedded across the home at strategic and management level – we will continue conversations with care homes at senior level for several years to measure observed changes and track shifts in wording in business plans
    • Increased number of visitors and increased number of relationships with community groups


    1.Pressures on staff time – all homes will be required to commit to covering costs of staff taking part in training.
    2.Challenges recruiting care home partners - We will work with trusted partners to approach care homes, and use evidence from the pilot project to assure care homes of the quality and nature of our work.
    3.Difficulty involving volunteers and visitors – We have a strong track-record of engaging local groups through creative projects and significant volunteer management expertise


    We will undertake a thorough evaluation process to monitor progress against our anticipated outcomes and will create an end of project evaluation report for all donors. We will invite all supporters to the celebration events to see the project in action.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £104,045

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £5,700 Planning and preparation Observation sessions, planning meetings, training for all artists
      £17,250 Creative sessions in care home 8 weekly cross-arts sessions in each care home, and 3 monthly follow up sessions
      £1,440 Celebration events Sharing events celebrating work created, with local residents and groups invited
      £8,996 Staff training Sessions for care home workers to learn new skills and build confidence in personalised care
      £17,013 Project manager Part-time Producer to run the project
      £22,850 Sharing learning Evaluation, creating toolkit, and disseminating learning
      £8,876 Senior staff leadership Chief Executive and Director of Learning & Participation time to profile project and lead
      £21,920 Other Contribution to office overheads, administration and contingency

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    City Bridge Trust £30,000 Guaranteed
    Mercers Company £20,000 Guaranteed
    Merchant Taylors Company £10,000 Guaranteed
    Chapman Charitable Trust £2,000 Guaranteed
    Care homes in-kind £5,346 Conditional
    Care homes cash £4,500 Conditional
  • Background


    Three Tower Hamlets care homes (Aspen Court confirmed, two others tbc). Tower Hamlets has the highest rate of pensioner poverty in the UK, and the Tower Hamlets Local Strategic Partnership (THLSP) has identified the need to improve the well-being of older people as one of the biggest challenges facing the borough. Spitalfields Music has been working in Tower Hamlets since 1976 and has demonstrated its commitment to changing lives across the borough through creative music experiences.


    Up to 100 older people living in residential care in three Tower Hamlets care homes. We anticipate that most will be living with dementia.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Spitalfields Music has been delivering creative projects with different groups in Tower Hamlets for over 40 years, and our work is recognised as national best practice, winning a 2014 Charity Award, 2017 RPS Award and being profiled at conferences around the world.
    In 2016, we delivered a pilot project with Aspen Court care home, and saw significant success against our anticipated outcomes over just six weeks. We have proven expertise, networks and profile to deliver this project successfully.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Bea Hankey, Director Of Learning & Participation

    Bea has 15 years’ experience working with artists in community settings with Glyndebourne, Roundhouse and English National Opera.

    Nicole Artingstall, Project Manager

    Nicole brings expertise in cross-arts and intergenerational working from past roles at Watford Palace Theatre and Magic Me.

    Julian West, Creative Lead

    Julian is a specialist in music engagement with dementia, working with Wigmore Hall, Glyndebourne and Wellcome Trust’s Created Out Of My Mind project

    Eleanor Gussman, Chief Executive

    Eleanor brings extensive experience managing music education projects, as former Head of London Symphony Orchestra’s Discovery programme.

Nursing home” has two words to it, and two aspects, but many prioritise the provision of “nursing” over the creation of a “home"… We have exalted longevity over what makes life worth living.

Dr Gareth Francis on “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” by Atul Gawande, The Guardian