Yorkshire Dance

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Reflecting on In Mature Company Artists 2022

Fri 17 February 2023
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Following the huge success of its launch in 2018, Yorkshire Dance’s In Mature Company has continued into its fifth year, delivering specialised creative dance and music sessions for older adults living in care homes across Leeds.  Previously funded by Time to Shine to explore the benefits of meaningful touch for people living with dementia, we have since secured a further 3 years of funding from the NHS. For this year’s programme, we have shifted our focus towards measuring the impact of creative movement on clinical outcomes like strength, mobility and more regular sleep patterns.

In 2022 we have delivered 20 weekly in-person sessions in 4 dementia care homes reaching 139 residents. These homes were based in in Adel, Holbeck, Harehills and Morley. We are also midway through 30-weeks of online Zoom sessions, bringing together even more care homes across Leeds to dance and move together.

Each session is led by 2 artists and a musician who use movement, music, touch and non-verbal communication to create moments of social connection, reducing social isolation and loneliness. We gave new experiences to those who had not danced before and encouraged reminiscence for those that had. We have aimed to enrich and empower residents by using their life histories to drive choices in music & movement, enabling them to take an active role in how each session develops.

The positive effects this high-level of engagement has had on residents mood, confidence and overall wellbeing has been incredible. Reflecting on their time taking part in the sessions, one resident said “I love to dance and sing with everyone. It’s lovely to be all together. It brings me back to dancing as a child.”

This year the team has included:

Musicians: Will Fletcher, Luke Wilson, Georgina Buchanan

Lead Dance Artists: Thom McKeon, Kirsty Arnold, Rachel Clarke, Ellen Turner

Yorkshire Dance is passionate about leading high quality dance interventions in care settings and so is committed to building a workforce with the necessary skills to do this. We have four new assistant artists: Lucy Dyson, Thilde Andreasen, Alex Garland, Shauna McSwiney who have received work-based learning and 1:1 mentoring to develop a specialism in this area of work.

Although some were initially new to this type of engagement, each assistant artist brought their endless warmth and commitment, building meaningful connections with each resident they have worked with.

Our assistant dance artist Alex said:

“Working with In Mature Company has been a completely new and exciting experience for me as I have never worked within a care home before. I have learnt the importance of developing connections with the participants and It has been interesting to see the residents become more and more willing to join each week.”

Later this year, our dance artists will work with our partner homes to embed creativity within everyday forms of care. We hope to integrate their knowledge, skills and experience to bring about a wider cultural change in how we think about the care of older adults and demonstrate how interactive creative interventions can be used to prevent the profound health effects of boredom and inactivity.

Reflecting on their experience of the programme Tracey, Activities Coordinator at Alexander Care Home, said:

“It has changed our perspective of what we mean by dance, and that everyone can do something – it doesn’t matter if they are in bed all the time or if they are immobile, there is something for everyone to do, and that stayed in our minds.”

Next year we will be looking for 4 new partner care homes and expressions of interest will be advertised in April. We look forward to bringing creative dance sessions to even more care homes in 2023.

If you would like to find out more about this project please email Project Manager

Adie Nivison: adie.nivison@yorkshiredance.com

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