This weekly dance activity takes place at Brooke Mead, a residential care home for people with mild to moderate dementia, as part of The Welcome Project. When activity had to stop, as care homes locked down in February 2020 due to the pandemic, our Assistant Producer and Dance to your own tune workshop leader Luan Taylor and assistant Louisa Petts kept in touch with residents via weekly care packages.
Here, Luan recounts what this month’s return to Brooke Mead has meant to her and the residents.
“After 19 months without seeing each other in person, Rosaria and I felt a mixture of excitement and trepidation as we prepared for our first dance session back at Brooke Mead. The care team had warned me that many of the residents would not remember us, as their dementia had worsened, and it might feel like we were starting off from scratch in terms of building relationships and trust.
“As soon as we arrived I asked if I could see one of the residents who used to come every week, and was warned it would be very unlikely that I would be recognised or greeted warmly. But to everyone’s surprise, the resident’s eyes lit up when she saw me and immediately started to talk about the dancing. The lady’s husband and the care manager were both present and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
“So, it was with glad hearts that the sessions could start again after such a long time apart, and we decided to begin with a swing and hold a welcome back party.
“Led by the brilliant dance and health specialist Dr.Rosaria Gracia, the movement sessions focus on building up core strength again and improving mobility and flexibility while dancing and moving together to music.
“We were so happy to welcome nine residents to the first session which included The Charleston and The Samba, and after the session everyone shared high tea with scones and cream, cucumber sandwiches and cake. Everyone was so animated, happy and focused and really enjoyed moving to music again. One resident said ‘It just feels so nice to all be together again’.
“To see everybody again was such a joy. To see them all dancing and moving after such a long sedentary break was so encouraging. There was a lot of smiling and laughing that afternoon."
“One of the resident’s daughters said: ‘These activities have been so missed and are essential for the mental health of the residents at Brooke Mead. Long may it last.’”