Dance on Prescription is an initiative aimed at motivating residents at Gifford House care home in Basildon to exercise their bodies and minds, as well as improve their foxtrot and waltzing skills.
Part of the growing ‘social prescribing’ agenda, the informal tea dances are encouraging residents to either get up and get active or just relax, listen to the music and soak up the atmosphere – all improve both physical and mental wellbeing, especially as dancing is a medium that engages older people.
The sessions are provided by qualified dance instructors and adapted to meet particular, individual abilities to maximise benefits, and delivered at low cost or free of charge to remain accessible and inclusive. Around 20 care home residents, both male and female, take part every week.
Designed to not overtax, the sessions combine dance with exercise, using lots of play equipment, like balls, pom-poms and foam batons, to encourage participation in a fun and relaxed environment.
With plenty of singalong music, even the lungs are exercised.
Gifford House staff say Dance on Prescription is making a positive difference for the residents, it’s helping to build confidence and self-belief, develops communication with others through singing along to the music and interacting with other residents, as well as improving their mobility through encouraging physical activity.
Meanwhile, residents are saying they love the music and the instructors. When their families visit, they’re delighted to see loved ones taking part in activities, and some even join in the dancing, continuing the exercises outside of the class as they enjoy them so much.