Good Company

Good Company is a unique, multi-agency collaboration involving renowned artistic organisations and people living with dementia and their family carers in Brentwood, Essex, together forming an inclusive company of creative people.

What do we hope to achieve?

This long-term partnership between creative providers and key, local support services, offers an innovative solution to closing the health inequality gap for those in the community living with dementia by giving them greater agency, interaction and engagement with their carers, families, local communities and services.

What are we doing?

Participants are referred to the project by the Alzheimer’s Society as part of their support for vulnerable people in this area of Essex. In eight-week blocks of sessions, participants are invited to attend a weekly creative group at Brentwood Theatre, where they can be immersed in an array of stimulating arts activities, from reminiscence arts to dance, songs, orchestral music and co-creation, whilst exploring wellbeing, identities and relationships between family carers and those they care for.

Good Company is contributing to Brentwood Theatre becoming a creative hub for people with dementia and their carers in this locality. The sessions are led by experienced artists from Age Exchange, Green Candle Dance and Sinfonia Viva. Two locally-based Assistant Music Leaders have been recruited to join the artistic team to develop their skills in this area of collaborative arts work, with the aim that they will be ready to help sustain the activity in Brentwood when the current programme comes to an end.

The project is designed to be a prevention and early intervention programme to prolong independent living. The sessions blend social contact and interaction in a safe space, as well as offering pastoral care and support for the mental wellbeing of all participants, including carers. This is coupled with a vibrant mix of creative arts activity to support cognitive reablement, confidence and positivity, self-expression, self-identity, and connectivity to others. Physical health is also supported with participation in dance helping to prevent falls, increase fitness and aid recovery to prevent hospital readmission within an informal care setting.

At the end of each periodic block, the Good Company celebrates their work in an informal sharing day at the Theatre.

“A Journey to the unknown
Dementia is so unknown
It’s lonely but there’s help around
With friends and with family and carers too
The Alzheimer's Society is there for you
Now this Good Company is something new
It’s so important to be with you
To be with you.”

Lyrics to a co-curated song written by D, a carer.

We did enjoy the meeting and I was amazed at Alan. He actually sang "Abie my boy" and got a round of applause. I didn't know he knew the words, it was a song his father always sang, I think he surprised himself. If you knew Alan, singing a song to strangers was the last thing he would ever do, I was so pleased. He must have felt comfortable and the staff were so kind.

~ Margaret (partner of Alan who lives with dementia)

I didn’t know I had that music in me.

~ Carer

Thank you for that, I feel very emotional now. I’m struggling to keep it together! We’re quite far along the [dementia] journey now.

~ Carer

The project has been evaluated by the University of Essex and the learning is informing the evolution of the work throughout 2024.

Good Company is produced by Orchestras Live in partnership with Sinfonia Viva, Age Exchange, Green Candle Dance, Brentwood Theatre, Brentwood Borough Council, Essex County Council and the Alzheimer’s Society with funding from the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

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