Dance can improve and prolong quality of life for people with dementia

05 February 2016

Findings from a two year study supports growing evidence that regular dance activities can improve and prolong good quality of life for people in different stages of dementia.

The research, conducted by the Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health at Canterbury Christ Church University and Green Candle Dance Company, demonstrates how dementia focused dance activities improves the physical and mental wellbeing for people with the condition, as well as their carers.

Following regular Remember to Dance sessions, delivered by specialist practitioners, the participants showed evidence of improved wellbeing and positive moods, better co-ordination and sequencing, demonstrations of being in the here-and-now, positive social interactions and greater confidence, a reduction of listlessness and distress, and enhanced relationships with carers.

Furthermore, the research suggests that programmes like Remember to Dance could potentially offer cost savings to health and social care budgets by reducing the need for premature admission into long-term care settings and administration of drugs.

Dr Trish Vella-Burrows, Deputy Director for the Sidney De Haan Centre, said: “Our findings support the growing evidence of work that demonstrates the positive effect of dance as a non-drug intervention for people affected by dementia. This understanding sits alongside the Government’s agenda for finding cost-effective ways to manage an anticipated and unprecedented rise in the number of people with dementia over the next three decades.

“Regular, and importantly, long term group activity programmes can help to maintain and even improve function for those with the dementia. It can create a peer support system and social cohesion; much needed for those not only with the condition, but also their carers. Further, it can provide a platform for creative and embodied expression for people for whom such opportunities are vitally important for ongoing wellbeing.

“More research is needed into developing a model of training for healthcare staff to facilitate dance activities, but our research supports the likelihood of cost savings to the health and social care budget by reducing acute crises, drug prescription and premature admission into long-term care settings.”

The report, Remember to Dance: Evaluating the impact of dance activities for people in different stages of dementia, will be officially launched at Aesop’s first national Arts in Health Conference and Showcase on Friday, 5 February 2016 at the Royal Festival Hall, London.

The project was funded by The Headley Trust and delivered in collaboration with East London NHS Foundation Trust and the Alzheimer’s Society, Tower Hamlets.


Notes to Editor

  • The Remember to Dance sessions run by the Green Candle Dance Company took place both in hospitals (Remember to Dance in Hospital) and in the community (Remember to Dance in the Community).
  • The two year study (September 2013 – September 2015) evaluated participants from both Remember to Dance in the Community and Remember to Dance in Hospital.
  • Green Candle Dance Company continues to run the Remember to Dance programme with support from the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and the Henry Smith Charity. Find out more about Green Candle Dance company

Canterbury Christ Church University

Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.

With almost 18,000 students across Kent and Medway, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional subject areas.

  • 95% of our UK graduates were in employment or further studies six months after completing their studies*.

*2012/13 Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey


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Last edited: 14/12/2018 22:55:00