We have all heard on the news about how the COVID-19 pandemic has caused heartbreak for care homes across the country. Sherrington House in Ipswich provides residential care and has specialist registration for those living with dementia. The home was not an exception to the events of the past year and residents living with dementia were distressed by isolation and no relative contact.
Thanks to a Suffolk Coronavirus Community Fund Core grant from the Suffolk Community Foundation, DanceEast were able to pilot a programme of activities for the residents at Sherrington. This included in-person dance classes delivered through the lounge window, allowing for some much needed social interaction as opposed to digital activities which are often confusing for those living with dementia.
During the height of the pandemic, Karen (Lead Dance Artist) and Izzy (Assistant Dance Artist) also offered one to one phone calls with particularly isolated individuals and pre-recorded DVDs to get the residents dancing anytime they fancied. The creative dance activities gave residents and care staff something to look forward to each week – creating joy and sense of togetherness.
MARJORIE’S DANCE FROM HOME EXPERIENCE
Marjorie is a resident at Sherrington House who has found joy and happiness from participating in Dance from Home activities. ‘Even when feeling unwell or tired I still like to come down to support the group’ – watching and singing along to the music.
Marjorie loves the social aspects of dance and how it has brought the care home residents together during this challenging time – helping to introduce new residents to the group and create new bonds. She says ‘it has been nice to meet the artists – to see different faces’ a particular treat as all visits from family and friends were stopped during the delivery period.
During the most recent lockdown, Marjorie caught up with Karen and Izzy (Dance Artists) on the phone to stay connected and continue to talk about her love of dance, as well as her day to day activities. In one call, she talked excitedly about how she had just celebrated her 80th birthday and that the carers had decorated the lounge for her, and they had cake. she added ‘I still feel 21 and am looking forward to my 90th’. She also suggested the next dance session should include her favourite song ‘How Deep is Your Love’ by The Bee Gees so Karen and Izzy are working on this!
THE DANCE ARTISTS | KAREN PRATT
Karen (Lead Dance Artist) is a Suffolk based Dance Artist specialising in contemporary and community dance. She has worked in a range of educational settings in Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire and has been involved with DanceEast for many years working on community projects and in our dementia friendly classes. She also runs the Karen Louise Dance Company, delivering classes to teenagers and older movers as well as various community projects.
When talking about the project, Karen told us that she ‘jumped at the opportunity to do some dancing with the lovely residents. It was in the middle of the pandemic so it was a chance to bring some dance and movement activity to the home to help improve their physical and mental well being during the isolation that we experienced last year’.
THE DANCE ARTISTS | IZZY FRANKS
Izzy (Assistant Dance Artist) is a current Dance student at the University of Suffolk – a course delivered in partnership with DanceEast – and supports Dance From Home as part of her degree.
‘It’s been amazing to see the impact that this project has had on people. It would have been quite effective before covid but since the pandemic it’s been incredible to see how just a weekly dance session can bring people together during a difficult time and build relationships within a full community of residents, carers and families.’