Addenbrookes Charitable Trust


Award amount: £117,045 over 2 years

Organisation: Addenbrookes Charitable Trust

‘Dancing for Health’ Programme: a series of dance workshops at Addenbrooke’s Hospital to improve the health and wellbeing of older patients

The Charity

Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust’s purpose is to provide support for patients at Addenbrooke’s and the Rosie Hospitals that is over and above what can be funded by mainstream public funding.

The need

There is a considerable amount of research evidence, as well as feedback from patients, that demonstrates that when older people spend extended periods of time in hospital, it can lead to a significant detrimental effect on their overall health, wellbeing, confidence and mental health. This can still be the case even if the hospital has successfully treated the older person.

In order to address this, the health and social care system has developed rehabilitation and recovery programmes for patients post-discharge from hospital, but there is a gap in service delivery for the period when patients are in hospital. Since 2013 Addenbrooke’s has run two pilot projects to assess the impact of regular dance sessions on wellbeing and physical abilities for older patients on the acute wards. The results of these pilots were very promising with patients reporting increased subjective wellbeing, improved appetite after sessions and reduced incidents of agitation and aggression.

Addenbrooke’s now wants to scale up the project to establish a fully integrated dance programme for older patients and our grant will allow this to develop from an ad-hoc service to a regular programme.

The project

The Trust is funding the ‘Dancing for Health’ programme for older people who are on different wards across the Department of Medicine for the Elderly and Neurorehabilitation at Addenbrooke’s Hospital. A programme of six weekly workshops has been established and the following wards have been included: Diabetes and Endocrinology, Medicine for the Elderly (including wards that specialise in dementia and delirium care), Major Trauma and the Lewin Stroke and Rehabilitation Unit.

Each session follows a structure of warm-up movements, improvisation around movement, ideas and phrases and, where possible, developing into group sequences. The patients are joined in all the sessions by Healthcare Assistants from their wards and, on occasion, by friends and family.

All patients are encouraged to participate regardless of their mobility. Every session is shaped around, and in response to, the patients that attend. This in-patient dance programme is unique in the UK.

If patients are unable to attend the group sessions, bed sessions are offered to patients instead.

Sessions are run by a dance lead; however, in the second year staff will start to deliver sessions, having received specific training for this. It is anticipated that this will help to ensure the sustainability of the project once the grant has ended.

Is it working?

The project had a successful first year with noticeable improvements in patients that attended. These quotes from attendees demonstrate its impact:

It lifts my spirits – makes me feel a bit more normal than usual. I enjoyed all of it. The company. The atmosphere.

I find it relaxing and it wakes me up a bit, otherwise I’d sit in my chair with nothing to do and fall asleep.

In October 2017, the Academy of Ancient Music spent a day at the hospital working with different groups of patients, including the Dancing for Health sessions. The live music had a significant impact on the patients and the feedback was extremely positive. Due to the success of this session, there are plans underway to deliver additional sessions with the Academy of Ancient Music. You can see a short video of their session here.

The project is currently being evaluated by Hillary Bungay from Anglia Ruskin University. The preliminary findings from the first five weeks of observations indicate that the Dancing for Health activity is having a positive effect on the majority of patients who take part. A full report will be produced at the end of the grant, but a selection of the key findings to date are as follows:

Mood: 80.6% of people taking part appeared happier at the end of the session than at the start.

Relaxation: 87.6% of participants became more relaxed throughout the activity

Distraction: 75.4% of participants appeared to engage with the session and were therefore distracted from the ward activity

Creative Expression: 65% of participants responded spontaneously to the music or activity during the session.

Relationships: 95.5% of participants interacted with each other with 55.2% verbally communicating with others in the group, including encouraging others or clapping.

This evaluation will allow the charity to demonstrate the value of this project to the Hospital Board and will help secure the sustainability of the project.

For further information on the programme, please click here.