A dance student from Edge Hill University is calling for dance to be used in domiciliary settings to improve the mental and physical health of home care service users after seeing dramatic results from his dance research project.
BA Hons Dance student, Paul Wilson, originally from Yorkshire, saw that many of his service users for at Alcedo Care in Blackpool weren’t exercising during lockdown. Using his knowledge of the physical and mental health benefits of dance, Paul put together a research project, bringing therapeutic dance sessions to his clients, by either dancing with them, or for them.
Paul saw positive results straight away. Service users reported that the music and movement brightened their day, relieved stress, boosted their health and some even started chatting online about the sessions, creating a much-needed sense of community during lockdown.
Based on the results of his research, Paul has made a series of recommendations as to how dance should be adopted in all domiciliary settings to improve the home care clients lives.
Paul said: “During my course, I’ve learned so much about the benefits of dancing and truly believe that it can help people in a whole range of ways. I also noticed that while many care homes provide dance and music for residents, people who receive care in their own homes often don’t have access to the same activities and I wanted to do something to change that.”
Paul also got other carers involved and soon many service users were benefitting from his dance sessions, helping to lift their spirits and easing the tensions of the pandemic. Some service users reported major improvements in health, even when suffering from life changing illnesses.
“Initially I didn’t think it would have that big of an effect, but it was actually revolutionary for some of the service users.” Paul explained. “I saw memories being sparked in dementia suffers and someone with Parkinson’s told me it had really improved their balance and coordination. For most, the change in routine and having something new to do was a lifeline during the long, lonely lockdown helping them to get through it. I was blown away.”
One of Paul’s colleagues, Anne-Marie said: “Upon arriving at a client’s home she was extremely tearful and had had an upsetting day. After using music and dance movements she was relaxed, smiling and even laughing. It was emotional to watch and see the transformation in mood from just a couple of songs.”
To gather the data for his research project, Paul worked closely with Alcedo Care, using ethnographic research methods to establish how dance can be safely integrated into a domiciliary setting, and how and to what degree dance can improve and enrich the lives of home care clients.
Looking to the future Paul will be returning to Edge Hill to study postgraduate MSc in Adult Nursing. He hopes to go on to do more work around the health benefits of dance and one day create a much wider project using dance to improve the health and wellbeing of many more people.
“Even though I’ve only just finished my dance degree I can’t wait to go back to university and learn more about nursing, my new passion in life. I think having a nursing degree will open up options for me later in life and allow me to use dance in new and exciting ways, it’s a huge opportunity.”
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