Circle Dance in Dementia, established and run by Kath Kershaw and Cynthia Heymanson since September 2008, have provided over 90 training days around the country, training over 1000 staff from a range of care provision in Homes, Day Centres, Community Groups, Local Authorities and the NHS, and community musicians and dancers.
In October 2013 the Circle Dance in Dementia training and project moved to be under the management of Dementia Pathfinders Community Interest Company, which provides a range of dementia training.
Dementia Pathfinders will promote and deliver the Circle Dance in Dementia training programme as designed by Cynthia and Kath. Kath continues in her role as lead trainer/facilitator and will deliver training programmes in the North of England. Both Cynthia and Kath are retaining an advisory role and support Dementia Pathfinders to promote and develop the programme.
What is Circle Dancing?
Circle Dancing developed during the 1970s from traditional folk dance from around the world; there is a network of groups in the UK. The wide range of music links to celebrations, life events, and enables the exploration of the social and cultural aspects of connecting lives.
How can it work for people with dementia?
Music has been selected from the Circle Dance repertoire and dances have been simplified and adapted for both seated and standing dance. The touch, holding, swaying, and simple repetitive movements allow the participant to feel safe within the circle. During the dance session comments and thoughts are often evoked and expressed. With the release of feelings people with dementia may be helped to communicate. The circle therefore provides an opportunity for expression and creativity. Facilitators need to have both the understanding and experience of working with people with dementia together with an interest in dance and movement.
The aim and scope of the project
Circle Dance Training aims to enable and skill up staff to provide their own movement and music sessions with their service users. The dance provides an enjoyable form of exercise and movement. Staff have welcomed an activity in which people with moderate/medium stage dementia can engage. It offers the opportunity for a shared activity with partners, relatives and carers. It can be used in residential and day settings, assessment units, NHS and voluntary organisation groups with older people, people with learning disability, mental health conditions, and physical disabilities. It can be offered at Care Home social events, and Alzheimer's Cafes. Each track on the CD provided with the training course can be used for standing and seated dance.
The benefits of Circle Dancing
- Enjoyment at the time and enjoyment which may be recalled
- Movement and mobility; essential and required exercise
- Emotional and inner well-being, the circle and the type of music
- Reminiscence, Life History, and a tool to link to develop and refresh other activities especially reminiscence
- Relationships; contact/friendship encouraged/stimulated between users. Can provide a shared activity in group of users when some are diagnosed with dementia and some are not
- An activity that does not depend on conversation - for users less able to participate in discussion
- An activity which can be offered to younger people with dementia (also Learning Disability and Mental Health)
- Couples work and promotes their relationship sustaining
- Can be used at Relatives Social Events; scope for engaging relatives/families in activities
- Culture; the music is multi-cultural for users, carers and staff diversity
- Encourages staff to develop their confidence/skills to carry out activities
- Inclusive; both seated and standing dances in a session can involve mixed physical ability users to share an activity
- Fits in with The National Dementia Strategy & NICE/SCIE Guidelines No42
Circle Dancing in actionBelow are two videos about Circle Dance; the first features a session with a Community Group, and the second provides clips and tips for Care Homes and Day Centres. You can also watch either in a separate window by clicking on the You Tube logo.
"The circle dancing has had a real impact on the service users and they really enjoy it and engage with positive outcomes."
"The Circle dances are very popular and they are proving to be very beneficial on bringing people together who have mixed abilities, which helps to break down barriers between people, encouraging involvement from those who are a little shy."
"I seemed to have lost everybody
and suddenly found all these people again."
Service User comment
about Circle Dancing