healthpitch: a Davina’s Fund project

The healthpitch project stems directly from Davina Vickers’s terminal illness and her daughter, a healthcare professional, Camilla’s time caring for her.

It is a project which aims to influence thinking and practice on the quality of life for older people with health impairments, both physical and mental, and those who care for them.

“The macro-economic question of how we will finance health care and humanitarian questions about quality of life are closely linked, because happy people are, on average, healthier and more independent. This co-relation is well founded in science, and so is the relationship between cultural and social activities, and mental and physical vitality.” Mark Mieras.

An All Party Parliamentary Group for Arts, Health and Wellbeing confirms that quality arts engagement can contribute to the health, wellbeing and independence of older people, with significant social cost benefits. However the challenges are complex, as highlighted in top-level research: “It is concluded that this is a neglected issue and while the reasons for this are not obvious, ageism may play a part. The following areas are identified as key to developing this field: research; policy and funding; scaling up of activity; festivals; local authorities and health trusts; partnerships; the regulation of care; networking between arts organisations; practice development; training and standards; major venues; publicity; leadership of older people; coordination and sector advocacy.” Ageing Artfully.

We need to experiment with new ideas and encourage innovation in how we care for the elderly, raising the quality of their lives and the quality of care that is provided to them. Music can be a powerful tool for achieving this. And we bring professional level opera, set in relevant and interactive stories centred around enhancing human connection, into care settings to actively engage with residents, staff, families and local communities. We also present our productions at workshops and conferences reaching key stakeholders, providers and influencers so to spark discussions on ways of enriching the lives of those often overlooked.

Possibly the first opera ever written specially to be performed in care settings, “6 Characters in Search of an Opera” was performed 20+ times in 2017 in hospices, community centres, dementia units, care homes, a mental health hospital and a day centre for those recovering from brain injury. The response and feedback surpassed expectations.

Our next production,“The Audition”, a jukebox opera on your doorstep, has continued to stimulate debate and develop effective partnerships across border and boundary in using fascinating and challenging arts engagement to enhance the lives of the elderly and those who care for them.

Our initial focus has been for the elderly but, so not to limit the potential reach of our initiative in its early stages, we are open to all ideas where our productions can bring joy to, and enhance connection amongst, those facing difficult times. It could be argued that the importance of enhancing human connection is an essential as is decent nutrition, irrespective of the age or health concern.

We use the term care settings in the broadest sense and we mean care in relation to both social and health care worlds.

We welcome and encourage knowledge exchange and sharing between different fields and areas of interest.

For more information or to book a performance see:

healthpitch: Exploring with our bespoke, accessible opera productions, centred around enhancing human connection, to promote health, wellbeing and independence across the spectrum of health and care environments.