A great success for the Dance On Strength and Balance pilot

Posted: Tue, 14 May 2024 12:24

A great success for the Dance On Strength and Balance pilot

The new dance group for over 55s (anyone over the age of 50 are welcome to attend) launched in Doncaster on Monday 22nd January. The sessions are delivered by artists from darts, as part of their popular Dance On programme and focusses on strength and balance, with a view to supporting fall prevention, fall reduction, integration back into the community, combating deconditioning, building confidence, reduction of frailty and increasing social activity.

The programme has completed its free 12 week pilot and there has been a fantastic attendance throughout, with 40 people having signed up and approximately 20 people attending regularly. Charlotte and Alex (both Dance Artists and Postural Stability Instructors) from darts have been running these sessions and have seen many people embed the Strength and Balance session into their weekly routine, to ensure they continue to attend, and making a positive lifestyle change.

Having attended the new Strength and Balance sessions, some members have started to attend others in the Dance On programme, across Doncaster. They have been able to build their confidence to try new things and have acknowledged their abilities to do the other sessions, which is a fantastic personal achievement.
The pilot ran weekly from 22 January to 22 April (with a 2 week Easter break) in Woodfield Park Community Hall, Tickhill Road with social time afterwards in the Victorian Tea Rooms at St Catherine's House. The University of Leeds is carrying out a research project on the pilot programme to demonstrate the benefits and evidence of increasing strength and balance. Charlotte and Alex have seen that attendees' strength has improved over the course of the 12 weeks and anecdotal feedback from participants shows that they recognise this as well – they are now realising what they can do, rather than concentrating on what they couldn't do.

The pilot has proven that not only are participants increasing their strength and balance but also being able to attend something new to build up their social network and developing new friendships. Some participants have formed strong friendships and now also use the sessions as an opportunity to swap books and remind each other of upcoming events!

The sessions have continued on a drop-in basis, so there is no need to pre-book your place. Each session is £3.00 (free for carers) however, there is a loyalty scheme you can join: attend five sessions and you will receive your sixth one free! This is transferable across the Dance On programme, so you can attend any session that takes your fancy and they will all contribute to your loyalty scheme.

So, why not come along for a fun, interactive and enjoyable way to stay active and meet new people!
The Strength and Balance group has seen people attending who were recommended by friends, family, and health professionals. With it being on site, members of staff from the Tickhill Road Hospital (Rotherham Doncaster & South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH)) have also been able to attend with patients that benefit from this type of exercise.

Many participants have commented that they love coming to a green space as it is good for their mental health wellbeing, and some are familiar with the park as they used to attend regularly when they were younger.

A few members have started to go on the organised walks by Flourish, after the session. This shows how great partnership working can be; Flourish have been very accommodating for darts so they can access the tea rooms easily after the sessions, and it has allowed participants to find out what else is available for them locally.

Anyone over the age of 50 can be signposted to the Dance On programme, and the qualified team will work with individuals to assess their ability and expectations prior to starting a programme, so they feel safe and confident with the group throughout. The team will also work with individuals to establish the most appropriate programme within Dance On, and the location for them to attend.

Dawn Stones, participant of the Dance On programmes, said: "I have attended the Strength and Balance, Breathe and Connect, and Dance On programmes for several years now. As I suffer from joint and muscle pain, they have been invaluable to improving both my mobility and mood. The music and gentle exercise routines are fun for all. The sessions strengthen the body, refresh the mind, and lift the spirits."

John Stones, participant of the Dance On programmes, and Dawn's husband, said: "I originally started the Dance On programme before Covid and felt there were many benefits; foremost I enjoyed it, and it was great fun. It helped to develop my fitness, I became more active generally, and I was socialising with the other dancers. I had a greater feeling of wellbeing, I was less tired, and felt invigorated and refreshed.
"After Covid, I attended Breathe and Connect. This was ideal for me as I have COPD, so it helped enormously with my breathing. I really enjoyed meeting other people, and the relaxation exercises really calmed me down. All the activities were very creative, and we even helped to write some songs too! I have recently had a second hip replacement and I felt that I needed further exercises to strengthen my muscles and improve my balance. The Strength and Balance programme seemed ideal, so I went along with my wife. The sessions, which are very enjoyable, not only strengthened my hip joint and other muscles around my hip, but also helped to tone all my muscles and joints."

Charlotte Armitage from darts (Dance Artist and Postural Stability Instructor), said: "darts is delighted to be able to continue to expand our Dance On offer by focusing on falls prevention and improving strength and balance for Doncaster residents. We're really pleased about the high level of interest we have had for this programme - both from health professionals and from people coming along to the group.
"We are also excited about the research element of the project and hope that we can share the learning widely with local and regional partners. We now have four qualified Postural Stability Instructors, which is seeing the Dance On programme go from 'strength to strength'."

Dr David Crichton, Chief Medical Officer for NHS South Yorkshire ICB, said: "It is great to see that this pilot has been a huge success. The Dance On programme continues to promote a fun way to staying active, and maintaining and improving your muscle, strength, and endurance. All exercise is good for you and dancing can be a fun way to stay fit for people of all ages. This programme is also great for your mental health wellbeing and meeting new people, which has been demonstrated through the feedback from participants."

Jodie Bridger, Senior Partnerships Manager, Leisure Services for Get Doncaster Moving, said: "This pilot programme has evidenced that Dance On is a great example of how health services, darts, and residents are working together to support more people to get moving in a welcoming, safe and accessible environment, at the heart of Doncaster's communities."

Tags: News, Partners, Residents