Tea dances improve life for people living with dementia in Hertfordshire

May 1, 2015

A new initiative, run by a Hertfordshire-based organisation and funded by the Care UK wellbeing foundation, is set to use the nostalgia of tea dances to improve the wellbeing of people living with dementia.

Hertfordshire Care Providers Association (HCPA), a Welwyn Garden City-based not for profit organisation, runs the SMILE (Support Me in Life Engagement) project, which provides support and engagement sessions to older people or those living with disabilities.

Lyndsey Woods, the organisation’s funding and engagement manager, said: “We launched the SMILE project in the county’s residential homes a while ago and the feedback has been very positive. We want to be able to roll-out the project and its benefits to the wider community and now, thanks to a generous grant from the Care UK wellbeing foundation, we will be able to do just that.”

The £1,200 grant will see SMILE run tea-dance sessions that include dancing, reminiscence and singing. Lyndsey added: “Tea dances have many benefits for older people. As well as the fun and exercise that dancing brings, music and song provide a valuable way to communicate. As dementia develops, communication skills fade. Music, especially much-loved songs, can stay with a person long after their speech has failed. By joining in, their sense of wellbeing and happiness is increased.

“We have also now partnered with WDSA UK (Wheelchair Dance Sport Association UK) and this means the tutors delivering the sessions are wheelchair dance instructors and can ensure that anyone using a wheelchair is included within the sessions and can choreograph dances that are inclusive of everyone.”

Tea dances improve life for people living with dementia in Hertfordshire

The sessions will be open for up to 30 people and more details about the sessions and HCPA can be found by visiting hcpa.info or calling 01707 536020.

Belinda Moore, chair of the Care UK wellbeing foundation board, said: “Throughout Care UK’s 115 care homes our activities co-ordinators report the powerful effects of tea dances. They help residents reminisce and that in turn helps us to learn more about the person, their history and their interest. By learning about the person we see the individual and not the condition. That helps us to create genuinely person-centred care plans.

“We were very impressed at HCPA’s plans to run 10 such sessions and delighted to be able to support people in the county living with dementia. We were also pleased to see the support organised for those people using wheelchairs, making the events truly inclusive.

“I think it’s also important to remember that the sessions will not only provide an opportunity for them to socialise but it will also provide several hours of respite for the loved ones. Family carers give so much to their loved-one and to society and I am pleased the sessions will give them a break, knowing the person they care for is safe and having fun.”