In THIS Moment : Dance and Dementia at Leighton Hospital

In THIS Moment has been created in partnership with Cheshire East Council (Cultural Services), Leighton Hospital and Mid Cheshire Hospitals Charity and is supported by additional investment from Cheshire East Council Participatory Budgets scheme (Public Health).

Aims of the project:

Using dance and person-centred creative practice to:

- Enhance the healing environment in the hospital
- Contribute to the prevention of the early onset of Dementia
- Offer people a way to live well with dementia in dementia friendly communities -Challenge perceptions around dance and who can dance
- Undertake a qualitative enquiry, collecting observations about the project from all stakeholders

Currently the project has two main strands with weekly delivery of dance in Leighton Hospital with further development and delivery planned for four open-access community dance sessions for older people which particularly welcome those living with dementia and their carers. This is currently geographically focused around Crewe. We begun sessions at Beechmere in January 2017 and the three other sessions rolled out from Spring 2017.

The work started in the hospital in November 2016 on a non-acute rehabilitation unit where occupational therapy and physiotherapy are offered, patients are generally aged 70+. People on this ward usually stay here on their way out of hospital after illness or surgery.

“I have a person-centred approach in my daily life which includes my work. I love to facilitate enjoyable and engaging dance and movement sessions that enable creative possibilities drawn from the participants. My approach is to always remain flexible and open, to tune into both verbal and non-verbal signals and be led by the participants. I may have a theme in mind but I often find the most meaningful experiences arise out of tangents or interpretation of these ideas.”

Jody Morgan, Lead Dance Artist




Cheshire Dance and Leighton Hospital are already begining to see the benefits that the dance sessions have socially, mentally and physically. These are indicated below:-

Social Benefits

The sessions have been an opportunity for people to reveal or remember themselves, within an environment where you can easily lose a sense of self and where you are most often defined by your ailment. The sessions have offered additional space and time for people to be seen, heard and sometimes, rediscovered – to share their stories with others.

“Patients were more engaged than normal, it was interesting to find out different information about each other and see them come out of their shells more. It was a really enjoyable session.”

Rebecca, Staff Nurse


Physical Benefits

There is a really strong desire to support and reinforce what the physiotherapists are already doing – particularly falls prevention (OTAGO) and using a collaborative approach. [For more information on Cheshire Dance Dance to Health programme click here)

Mobilising joints, stretching muscles and including movements that will enable participants to maintain skills for essential tasks such as getting dressed, bending to pick up objects and gripping things have been integral to the sessions. This combination of mobility, flexibility and strength work is made all the more engaging when accompanied by music and imagery in the sessions.

“The dance activity is perfect for people (like S, above) who has low blood pressure and dizzy spells, as she can still be really active within the session but being seated removes the risk of falling.”

Paul, Physiotherapy Assistant


Mental Health Benefits

With a reflexive approach to the sessions and by following the participants lead and using their suggestions they are making decisions in the moment – giving space and time for things to evolve.

“(Participant aged 84yrs) was participating in her third dance session. Previously she had appeared quiet, withdrawn, drifting in and out of sleep. During the session, when she noticed the inflatable globe it was like a light bulb came on – I saw her light up – it was just that little thing that she needed to bring her back in to the room. She began to talk about her travels and her past career as a primary school teacher in Cornwall – the rest of the group then went on to find common threads that brought them together.”

Jody, Dance Artist


Impact beyond the session itself – ‘Enhancing the Healing Environment’
 “It lifts the atmosphere of the whole ward and it spills over for the rest of the day – the staff are in a better mood.”

Charlotte – Head Physiotherapist



Design By Balance