The Project

Filipa Pereira-Stubbs and patientsSince 2013, two pilot projects, funded through Addenbrookes Charitable Trust [ACT], and Addenbrookes Arts, involving weekly dance and movement sessions were run on three acute wards for older patients at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust . Due to the adhoc nature of the sessions and once-weekly occurrence, it was not possible to carry out a substantial evaluation and chart any longitudinal impacts of the sessions on patients. Nevertheless an evaluation showed that the sessions had the following impact:

For patients – sessions have 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.

For staff – sessions have enabled staff to develop more personalised relationships with the patients they are caring for and have thus enhanced the level of care provided.

For relatives/carers – a small number of relatives have taken part in the sessions and have reported that this has increased their and their family members’ well-being through having something positive to do together. Relatives have also spoken about how the sessions have given them more trust in the care provided by the hospital.

Following the pilot projects a grant application was made to the Dunhill Medical Trust to run a 2 year project called Dance for Health. The Dunhill Medical Trust is a UK-based charitable trust which invests in innovation in the care of older people and research into the causes and treatments of disease, disability and frailty relating to ageing. Members of the Dunhill Medical Trust visited one of the sessions and met with the Dance Artist and the Falls Prevention Co-ordinator, they were very pleased to accept our application and the project started in April 2017. The project will be evaluated by independent researcher, Hilary Bungay. Hilary is an experienced academic at Anglia Ruskin University and has undertaken a number of research projects in the delivery and organisation of health care services.

HandsThe 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. Healthcare Assistant Jeanette, who has taken part in sessions, explains that ‘this approach is excellent because it creates a really good rapport between staff and patients. It helps us to get to know them better and therefore helps us provide the very best care possible.’.

Visiting family and friends are also encouraged to join in the sessions.

Staff Comment: “The magic is people feel back in control. When you’re in hospital and you’re a patient, there’s no control. People feel there are in a more normal environment’’

Patient Comment: Pearl: “I was feeling really depressed. But coming down here has made me feel so much better. Dancing with you has made me feel…(doesn’t finish sentence but shrugs shoulders and smiles huge smile.