DANCE FOR OLDER ADULTS
Dancing with Dementia
This programme offers those living with Dementia a chance to experience creative movement and dance with their partners, friends, family and carers. Classes focus on stimulation of the brain through movement, repetition, props and musical timelines. These factors offer the opportunity to keep the mind alert whilst also unlocking support for general well-being.
The class concludes with time to chat over tea & coffee.
Unfortunately, we are not currently delivering specific sessions for those living with Dementia, however we are offering online 'Take a Seat' class which we welcome you as a care home or family to join. We also have free resources and DVD resources which you can purchase from our shop
Please have a read about our most recent project:
Dancing with Dementia a project Supported by Livewell, Braintree District Council and the Alzheimer’s Society
In June 2019 we were contacted by the Alzheimer’s Society and Active Essex to ask if we could support those living with Dementia and their partners through dance activity.
The Alzheimer’s society expressed “that these sessions will support the community of people living with Alzheimer’s and Dementia to come together. People will develop confidence and mutual support and engage in activities”.
We successfully applied and received a £1000.00 grant from Braintree District Council: Livewell in order to deliver these sessions. The Alzheimer’s society then offered to support the sessions with space at the British Legion.
On the funds we were able to offer 4 sessions once per month in creative dance. Each session would also offer a social at the end of the dance activity. Classes would be open to those living with Alzheimer’s and their companions and carers.
Our target areas were to:
address frailty (help people age well)
To achieve this, we designed content for this project that focused on stimulation of the brain through movement, repetition, props and musical timelines. These factors offering the opportunity to keep the mind alert whilst also unlocking support for general well-being and proven to support those living with Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
But just as important we offered a 30 – 45-minute social at the end of the class which allowed opportunities for a peer support network to arise and ensure no one ever felt lonely or isolated as new friendships were formed.
As we had not yet delivered a direct community class for those living with dementia (only older adult sessions where participants living with dementia have attended but not exclusive) this is where we relied heavily on our partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society in Witham. The company and staff helped to support the programmes profiling. The Alzheimer’s Society were distinguished in recruiting the right participants for the activity and agreed to run the bookings line so that all enquiries went through their head office. This also allowed new people / couples to be alerted to the Society in order for them to continue to support after the dance programme had ended.
We created a flyer which was given out to all local business in Witham and Silver End high streets - personally.
We wrote and sent flyers to all the local care homes and sheltered housing schemes.
We sent posters to all the GP Surgeries and the closest hospitals.
We spoke with Tesco’s and Morrison’s who also popped our flyer onto community boards and made staff aware.
Email flyers were then sent out to all our contacts and information went out on our social media pages as well as contacting others to support us to promote, such as the leisure centre, community 360, Livewell, local CCGs to name a few.
The Alzheimer’s society, Active Essex, Livewell and Braintree District Council also did their own marketing.
Classes venues and times:
Once per month 10:30 – 12:00 which included a 60-minute dance class and a 30-minute social.
At the Royal British Legion, Memorial Hall, Newland Street, Witham CM8 2AZ.
12 November and
Christmas party class - 17 December
14:00 – 16:00 Witham Community Hub Unit 17, Newland Shopping Centre, Witham CM8 2AP
Participants were also asked to contribute £1 to support costs of the final date venue hire and refreshments.
Beneficiaries in each of our sessions:
10 September - 14 beneficiaries: included 2 x people from the Alzheimer’s society and 1 volunteer from Witham, 3 artists and 8 dancers.
8 October – 11 beneficiaries included 2 x people from the Alzheimer’s society and 1 volunteer from Witham, 2 artists and 9 dancers.
12 November – 13 beneficiaries included 1 person from the Alzheimer’s society and 1 volunteer from Witham 3 artists and 8 dancers.
17 December (Christmas session 14:00 – 16:00) – 16 beneficiaries included 3 artists, and 1 observer from the Hub and 12 dancers (including Cllr and Mayoress Clare Lager)
Total = 54 beneficiaries
Artists total of 5
(2-3 of which were in the class each month 1 x lead artist and 1-2 x support artists)
Lead artists: Emma Meek and Lucy Blazheva
Support artists: Gemma Wright, Lucy Blazheva, Shevonn Maltwood and Lyann Kennedy
Feedback from Emma lead artist who delivered 3 out of 4 sessions
These creative sessions were for those living with dementia and their partners/carers therefore I encouraged and implemented exercises that encouraged bonding, integration and laughter.
Through the use of the scrunchie I was able to unite the group and have everyone warming up, mobilising and moving together. Everyone could join in and take part in their own way.
Our blow up beach ball allowed us to increase our heart rates in a fun and effective way. Through throwing, catching and batting the ball away, we were able to work on our reflexes and action/reaction. This playful activity also sparked a lot of laughter from the group as well as new relationships, visual tracking and eye contact with one another as they passed the ball around.
Through standing and chair supported exercises I was able to work on mobilising joints, transference of weight, posture, alignment and balance.
Set and free movements were shared to help us travel and explore through the space. This allowed participants to dance individually, and with partners, not only their direct carer but others in the space too. This allowed integration and new relationships to be formed in addition to focusing on set steps and spatial awareness. Through the joining of hands during partner work offered a sense of connection through touch.
A closing sequence was repeated at the end of each session to allow participants to copy and join as they wished. They were encouraged to sing along if they knew the words offering them to vocalise and again feel a part of a united group, singing and moving together.
The use of Thera bands was implemented into some of my sessions in order to offer a range of strengthening exercises. In particular focusing on arms and wrists, as it can help prevent and hold up the body if ever having a fall.
Ribbon sticks were used as props in order to encourage a wider range of movement through moving them in different ways. This was put into a repetitive choreographic sequence allowing everyone to move together. The use of colours and bells on the props also supported visual and audible stimulation.
What went well:
A lovely group to work with each month, I feel that our unique way of working encouraged and highlighted our participant’s abilities whilst allowing the opportunity for carers to say with and alongside their dementia participant.
I feel our use of props showed the importance of offering other ways to move due to the visual, physical and audible aid that they offer. In particular the ribbon sticks and bells alerted a participant are her eyes lit up. The use of the beach ball allowed everyone to laugh react and increase their heart rate, warming up together.
I noticed the improvement in our dancer’s participation and involvement as the class went on, by the end of the class specifically in ‘oh what a beautiful day’ I have always felt as if we are all dancing together and is unknown who in the room has dementia. It is as if their brains and bodies are warmed up with a really positive energy from all.
I feel the range of songs, props and explorations offered elements on reminiscence, whether this was dancing in partners, singing along to music and general laughter, being and feeling a part of something
As an organisation this is the first time delivering an exclusive class for those living with Dementia. We were excited to strengthen our work in the community with this new programme and as much as it benefited the people involved, it benefited the organisation to see the need for these types of sessions.
Working with the Alzheimer’s society meant that we have had a higher reach and engagement of participants than we would have received alone, but also strengthened relationships between the couples attending other Alzheimer society activities.
We collated testimonial feedback from the dancers this is what they had to say about the sessions:
Very enjoyable. I think those who attended felt the benefit and had fun too
Enjoyable session it got everybody joining in together and motivated. Was also fun
A good exercise session. Alan warmed to it later on and joined in. He especially enjoyed the session part with the ball
Prefer the hub - cosy, not as big as the British Legion. Can’t do ballroom at the hub but like the space and love the music. Prefer more dance than the movement before from the other delivering artist
I thought the exercise was very interesting and I enjoyed it very much
Laura enjoyed the sessions, she is relaxed and so I know she enjoyed herself
Enjoyed the session it was lively and full of fun