When you think of a hospital ward you think of a clinical environment with bright lights and busy with hurried doctors and nurses going about their duties, quite an unlikely place for anything creative to emerge let alone a dance session.
On the Stonebow Unit, Hereford dance sessions became part of the weekly routine with dance workshops delivered by Xpress-Yourself. Patients on the Stonebow Unit were generally older adults living with organic mental illness, including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and complex mental and physical health needs.
Xpress-Yourself delivered a series of weekly workshops which informed our inclusive dance practice our understanding of working creatively on a hospital ward. Dance became something for patients and staff alike to look forward to as it provided an opportunity to move freely, explore self-expression and interact with other patients in a different way. For some patients the enjoyment was watching the other patient’s dance, for others it was enjoying being in the moment whilst moving with purpose and for the majority it was enjoying the freedom that dance provided.
Our experiences from dancing on the hospital ward, teach us that when delivering dance in a hospital environment we must be sensitive compassionate and have good observation skills and you must know when to stop. Our experience also teaches that using authentic movement allows you to be fully present in the moment which enables the dance artist to connect with each individual participating thus making them feel valued.
In summary the benefits of dance for those on a hospital ward were significant. Most importantly from our work we know that dance has positive experience on those in hospital. During many sessions our playful approach engaged the most withdrawn of patients and after the session it felt as if spirits had been lifted of the patients and staff alike. Fundamentally dance encouraged patients to be active in caring for their own health and wellbeing.
In summary the benefits of dance for those on a hospital ward were significant.