What is this pill called dance?

Debra Quartermaine is a Qualified Nurse and currently works as the Falls Prevention Co-ordinator as well as the Dance for Health programme coordinator at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Debra has experience of nursing in a variety of specialties including general medicine, care of the elderly, learning disabilities and mental health.

Thousands of emotions well up inside me throughout the day. They are released when I dance.- Abraham Lincoln

Since 2013, two pilot projects, funded through Addenbrookes Charitable Trust [ACT], and Addenbrookes Arts, involving weekly dance and movement sessions were run on elderly care, stroke rehabilitation and neuro-rehabilitation wards at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. An evaluation showed that the sessions enhanced wellbeing and health through supporting increased movement, more positive moods, and greater socialisation. Sessions have enabled participants to connect to their emotions and their bodies. The inclusive and flexible way in which the sessions are delivered means that they are accessible and beneficial to patients with a wide range of abilities and needs.

The sessions have also enabled staff to develop more personalised relationships with the patients they are caring for and have thus enhanced the level of care provided. This was supported by relatives having also spoken about how the sessions have given them more trust in the care provided by the hospital.

Following the pilot projects a successful  grant application was made to the Dunhill Medical Trust to run a 2 year project called Dance for Health. The project started in April 2017 and will be evaluated by an independent researcher.

The Dance for Health Project comprises of seven sessions each week on six different wards: elderly care, diabetes and endocrinology, neuro-rehabilitation, stroke rehabilitation and renal

Bedside sessions can also be offered to patients who are unable to attend the group sessions for clinical reasons. Each session lasts up to one hour and is entirely shaped around and in response to the patients who attend.

All patients are welcome to participate regardless of their mobility, many will be seated, some will be very limited in their movement, many will have dementia but no distinction will be made between their contribution and that of every other participant. An exciting aspect of the dance programme is to encourage participants to initiate movement – allowing patients to take the lead. Nurses and healthcare assistants will participate in the sessions alongside their patients. Visiting family and friends are also encouraged to join in the sessions.

Dr Stephen Wallis FRCP, Consultant Physician, Department of Medicine for the Elderly, Addenbrooke’s Hospital

“The combination of music and rhythm, plus the social aspects provide an oasis of normality during a time in which patients are otherwise vulnerable to physical and cognitive deconditioning. The Dancing for Health project not only brings enjoyment and a smile for both patients and staff, but also helps promote recovery and return to active health.”

For more information and to see comments and stories from patients, staff and relatives visit our blog https://cuhdance.wordpress.com 

5 thoughts on “What is this pill called dance?

  1. Is it possible to get hold of the pilot evaluations? I am a Cambridge-based PhD student researching art for health in older age and so it would be useful to read the evaluation. Please let me know.
    Best wishes, Emily

  2. There aren’t many days when we don’t have a little dance here. I’m still hoping that we can get back to our Social Dancing Group one of these days.

  3. My Dance dissertation was on dance and the elderly and how regular movement sessions can help with fall reduction. I’m so pleased I came across this post! My dissertation was back in 2001 but ever so relevant.

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