If you’re a member of NAPA (National Activity Providers Association) then you’ll already know about the many many resources they provide for those delivering activities in a care setting. If you haven’t heard of them and maybe wanted to find out more, you can head to their site- http://www.napa-activities.com/
NAPA are currently running ‘NAPA Year of The Arts’, which is an initiative aimed at promoting bringing the arts into care homes, and recognising how they can help care setting residents. As part of this, I submitted to them an article all about why Dementia friendly dance sessions are so beneficial. In case you aren’t a member, and you haven’t seen it in print, here’s the article!
5 reasons why you should be bringing Dance sessions in to your care home
We all know the positive impact bringing The Arts in to your care home can have. They promote good social and emotional wellbeing and are an important part of your activity program. I’ve been running dance sessions in care homes since 2015 and have found them to be extremely popular – with both service users and care home managers!
I’ve used my background as an activity co-ordinator in a care home for the elderly and my training as a performer to design dance sessions specifically for Dementia sufferers. They’re inclusive and can be easily adapted to suit all age ranges and physical abilities. No one gets left behind or left out!
Over the years, through my own experience and from feedback from the care homes I work with, I’ve learnt just how much of a positive impact the dance sessions can have on both the care home’s service users, and the care home itself. Here are five of those benefits.
One. People never stop wanting to learn.
While elements of reminiscence are welcome within dance sessions, they aren’t the sole focus. During Join The Circle dance sessions, we use music from around the world, including different cultures and eras. This enables participants to learn about different places and experience music that they wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to. I am quite often told how much people appreciate the break from Vera Lynn and Glenn Miller!
Two. Promoting person centred care.
Running dance sessions in your home starts a feedback loop between activity and care teams, with activity staff finding out information about residents, that can then be incorporated into their care plan. As an example, I ran a dance session in a home where we danced to ‘Hava Nagila’ a song of celebration that is often played at Jewish weddings. The dance started a conversation about religious faiths and one participant said she had been brought up Jewish but no longer practised. The care staff were previously unaware of this, as the lady had said she did not practise any faiths when she came to the home. As a result of this discovery, the home then ran subsequent activities that explored the Jewish faith and were able to give the participant better person centred care.
Three. Non-verbal participation.
It is easy for participants who have trouble communicating verbally to join in with dance sessions. They are able to be included, and part of the shared experience without feeling isolated. I’ve found some of my most enthusiastic participants are those who usually find it hard to be understood – most often Stroke sufferers. The dance sessions are a place where they can express themselves with their body, reducing their stress levels and the frustration they feel in every day life.
Four. Music & Dementia
Music has the power to reach people, even when they are in the advanced stages of Dementia. People who are uncommunicative and unresponsive to other activities can sometimes be encouraged to participate in activities that are music focussed – and what could be a more natural than dancing to music?!
I have designed Join The Circle dance sessions to optimise the engagement of Dementia sufferers. I have experimented with different session lengths and found 30 minutes to be the optimum length. This way, the session ends before the majority of participants have gotten too tired to join in or lose concentration. I also use the same song to start every session, and the same song to finish every session. The familiarity aids engagement and allows people to feel they are achieving something when I gradually increase the difficulty of the dance and people become more skilled at it.
Five. Ticking CQC’s boxes
The Care Quality Commission has said in their Key Lines of Enquiry (published in November 2017) that they want to promote links between a care home and its outside community. This helps to dispel the feeling of isolation, which is common amongst service users, and makes the home feel less institutional. As well as promoting physical wellbeing, social wellbeing, emotional wellbeing and being a place of sensory exploration, when an outside contractor (like a Join The Circle Co-ordinator!) runs dance sessions, you are ticking the CQC box for establishing community links.
I use my social media accounts and website to help promote the positive impact Join The Circle dance sessions have on my participants and care home staff. If you’d like to see more benefits or find out more about Join The Circle dance sessions, you can visit us on the links below…