Background Coping with the physical and psychological changes associated with terminal illness can be extremely difficult, but being physically active can help people cope better with these challenges.
Partner dancing provides this by keeping the mind and body active and improving muscular strength, balance, coordination, cognitive function, social skills and self-confidence. It has the added benefit of allowing partners to participate, increasing patient quality of life and enabling them to enjoy being in the moment together.
The Dancing for Health project has been developed in partnership with a local dance school who have devised a specialised programme that recognises and takes into account the limitations of patients with terminal illnesses.
Aim To develop a specialised partner dancing programme that improves both the physical activity and wellbeing of terminally ill patients and their partners.
Method A tailored eight-week partner dancing programme is being delivered jointly by hospice allied health professionals and the dance school. Patients who would not ordinarily attend a public dance class have the opportunity to learn to dance with a partner - be that their own partner, family member or friend - in the hospice’s safe and familiar environment, and engage in a fun activity that improves their physical, psychological and social wellbeing.
Results It is hoped that the pilot will provide an evidence base to demonstrate the many benefits partner dancing can have on improving patients’ health and general wellbeing, including improving self-confidence, self-esteem and cognition.
The programme will be evaluated using patient questionnaires including the Short Warwick-Edinburgh and Practice Research Network assessment tools.
Conclusion Terminally ill people have to make many adjustments to cope with the changes that illness brings. If successful, Dancing for Health could provide an opportunity to better support patients with managing physical and psychological adjustments, as well as enhancing their social wellbeing.
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