Dancing for Dementia patients

Arts @ StAndrew’s are offering patients on our dementia wards opportunities to express themselves and get active, thanks to a 10-week programme of dance and movement sessions.

Dance artist Lucy Knight, Co-Director of Wriggle Dance Theatre, has been visiting our Northampton site to deliver the dance workshops across two wards. Lucy’s fun, relaxed sessions include nostalgic music, and feature an array of stimulating props including feathers, balloons, foam rollers and rattling eggs to engage the participants.

Our patients are encouraged to get involved in the sessions in whatever way they can – from tapping their feet to the music, to swaying side to side. The classes take place in a relaxed, communal space on the ward, and while the majority of participants remain seated during the classes some have taken to their feet to get more involved.

Dancer Lucy Knight, commented: “It is lovely to see the patients come together as a social group for a shared creative experience, and to respond and engage with the music and movement activities. Over the weeks it has been interesting to see them remember the exercises and know what to do when the props are given out.”

Dance has long been recognised as providing a therapeutic benefit, and it is both a form of release and a means of expression. By using simple, creative movements we encourage the people in our care to express something of their individuality, focusing on their strengths, emotions and continuing abilities.

Tina Heeley, Arts Manager for St Andrew’s, explained: “Since Lucy started these weekly classes we are seeing small shifts in the patients taking part - smiles and singing are happening on a weekly basis and it has been reported back that there has already been a significant uplift in mood of patients for the remainder of the day after the session.”

Natasha Hodgson is an Occupational Therapist working with patients on the dementia wards. She has been helping patients to get involved in the classes, encouraging participation and assisting the people in our care who have mobility issues. 

She explained: “It has been amazing to see those that do not normally engage react to the variety of props and music on offer during Lucy’s sessions, which has now led us to buying our own!"