Our impact


There are over 400,000 older people living in residential care in the UK. 80% of these people are living with a form of dementia or severe memory problems.

Heath and social care are so often still seen as separate needs. In order to provide the best quality of life for older people in care, we need to address this divide. Our mission is to transform the residential care sector, so that older people’s mental, social and emotional wellbeing is prioritised alongside their physical care.

During 2016-17, we have:

  • Delivered 2,750 activity sessions benefitting 6,600 older people (a total of 33,000 attendances by older people). 
  • Trained 210 care staff in meaningful engagement, boosting their skills and confidence, and embedding best practice. 
  • Introduced 10-week coaching programmes for care staff from December 2016, involving 100 staff in 25 homes. 
  • Distributed 469 ‘Making a Difference’ Best Practice Guides to support care home managers and staff to develop a more relationship-centred approach.  
  • Delivered 30 Active Care Forum workshops, with 450 attendances, providing professional development and peer support for care staff to share ideas and support each other.  
  • Run a series of innovative projects that connect communities with care homes.




Our work has been independently evaluated by Willis Newson and Professor Norma Daykin from University of West of England using the ArtsObs tool. This tool is cited by Public Health England and Professor Daykin is a Project Partner in PHE’s new guidance on evaluating arts projects and programmes that seek to improve health and wellbeing. 

The Willis Newson report states: “There is evidence that creative engagement has positive effects on general health, medication use, cognitive functioning, levels of anxiety and depression, mental wellbeing and some specific physical functions for older people within care homes (see, for example, Cohen, 2006 and 2007).”

"This evaluation suggests that Alive activities impact positively on the mental and emotional wellbeing of those who participate. The workshops provide enjoyable activity, enabling social connections between residents and staff within the care settings, and giving participants opportunities to demonstrate skills, knowledge and to experience a sense of pride and achievement. Activities are observed to provide a ‘lift’ to the physical and mental energy levels of the older people who take part."

"Alive is valued by care managers and staff for the impact it has upon individuals in their care and for the sensitivity it displays towards them."

We are now working with Willis Newson to design a new evaluation framework that will improve the way we measure progress towards achieving our intended outcomes and the impact of our work. The new framework  is currently being piloted with a view to having a year’s worth of data to draw on by November 2016. Watch the evaluation film below and,





In our last care home survey:

  • 100% of staff said that Alive activity sessions lift the moods of residents          

  • 98% of staff said that knowledge and understanding of person-centred care has improved as a result of Alive training and activities in the home 

  • 100% of staff said that Alive activity sessions encourage interaction



Why activity matters

The 2013 NICE Report 'Dementia: independence and wellbeing' stated that "It is important that people with dementia can take part in leisure activities during their day that are meaningful to them. People have different interests and preferences about how they wish to spend their time. People with dementia are no exception but increasingly need the support of others to participate. Understanding this and how to enable people with dementia to take part in leisure activities can help maintain and improve quality of life."

By running meaningful and stimulating activities in care settings residents are given a sense of purpose, which is crucial for health and wellbeing. People living with dementia are no exception to this, and care providers have an important role to play in identifying opportunities and supporting individuals to become involved.



Influence and advocacy 

We advocate for improved quality of life for older people in care homes, working with partners in the voluntary, public, private and academic sectors to raise awareness and change attitudes.

Some of our key achievements include:

  • Working in partnership with RSVP and Bristol City Council, to deliver a project targeting three care homes identified as needing improvement in their activity provision by RSVP Lay Assessors.
  • Producing two Best Practice Guides for Bristol City Council– one aimed at care home managers and the other targeting care home staff.
  • Working with Bristol City Council to define quality of life standards for their new care home service specification and helped to rewrite the new specification.
  • Being elected to the Bristol Older People's Partnership Board which looks at all issues affecting older people throughout the city
  • Advising and providing feedback to SCIE (social care institute for excellence) on new guidance notes designed to get more people living with dementia in care engaged with new technology and the internet