Photo of Carole Laine

Carole Laine

Carole is the MD of Cats Pyjamas Productions, a provider of care home entertainment. She says “I have been a performer all my adult life, on cruise ships, in holiday camps & hotels, at functions, in theatres. In fact, almost any type of venue you can think of.

Ten years ago, I started performing in care homes. It was whilst performing in the care homes that I saw how I could connect with people in a way I never realised – through music. It’s now become my passion to bring the benefits of music to people with dementia, whilst creating a professional theatrical experience for people of all abilities.”

Who will it help/who has it helped already?

According to Carole, so far, Cats Pyjamas Productions has performed for over 1000 care homes, day centres and assisted living accommodations. She says “We already have around 300 clients who book on a regular basis and many more book occasionally. Unfortunately, not everyone gets the financial support from their management to allow regular entertainment.

It has now become my mission to show the benefits of music and entertainment for people in a care setting (especially when they have dementia or other mental disabilities).

I want to get the message out to as many people as possible that if you can create a happy atmosphere for the elderly and disabled, then they will live longer, happier lives. Our shows are enjoyed by residents, staff and families alike. They bring about many memories and emotions.”

What’s worked?

“Our productions are fast paced, visual and interactive, involving costume changes and choreography. We challenge our audiences by bringing a different theme every time we visit. We now have over thirty different shows that I have written. Some of these are original one-woman pantomimes, some are mini musicals, and others are cabaret-style performances.

Each one has been designed using elements of music therapy to bring the biggest benefits to people with dementia and other mental disabilities. Watching one of our shows, you wouldn’t realise it initially as they are a completely professional experience. We bring the theatre to the people who can no longer get out.

My other performers and I regularly get comments from staff and family members about how they have never seen a certain person react in such a positive way. Very often, members of the audience will not speak or react with anyone, yet when we perform our shows they light up from within and sing every word with us. It is such a beautiful thing to see.”

What have you learnt? Any challenges?

“Over the past ten years of performing for and disabled people, I have learned that everyone has a story. One of the great things about performing for these people is that you get a chance before or after the show to spend some time with them and listen to their tales.

The biggest challenge for the business is getting management and families across the UK to understand how important entertainment can be for people with disabilities, whether physical or mental.

The biggest challenge for me personally is finding the time to be a mum, a performer and the administrator all at the same time. I may have performers covering other parts of the UK, but I am the only one who does the office work at the moment.”

What’s next?

“We’ve only scratched the surface. There are over 20,000 care homes in the UK at the moment – plus all the assisted living accommodations and day centres.”

What advice, contacts or resources would help you?

“I’m always looking for contacts within the care sector.”

Why we’re sharing these stories

An individual or organisation from each of our five categories will be recognised at our Igniting Inspiration recognition event in November, but we want to publish all relevant stories to spread awareness of all the positive work that goes on in our region!

Stories fuelled by our Inspired Sponsor, CNG Ltd

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