Sheffield's Hospice, St Luke's are the first hospice in the UK to pilot using partner dancing as a physical and social activity for patients with or affected by an illness with no cure, within a hospice environment. The programme has been developed to take into account the limitations of patients with an incureable illness. The aim of the programme was to improve the physical activity and well-being of these patients and their partners. To allow partners to participate, increasing the quality of life for the patient; allowing them to enjoy being in the moment together.
Coping with the physical and psychological changes associated with an incureable illness can be extremely difficult, but being physically active can help people cope better with these changes. Engaging in a fun activity will improve their physical, psychological and social well-being. The 'Dancing for Health' programme provides an opportunity to better support patients and their partners.
The Dancing for Health programme was evaluated and researched by Sheffield Hallam University and Manchester Metropolitan University over a 40 week period. The evaluation used both quantitative and qualiative methods to assess the impact of our programme on physical and mental wellbeing and relationships. Participants fitted into three categories, patients, carers and the bereaved. The results of the study showed that eight weeks of Dancing for Health classes led to a reduction in perceived stress levels for all three categories, as well as improvements in physical wellbeing, mental wellbeing, social interactions and relationships. The bereaved group experienced the highest levels of perceived stress at the start of the programme but then showed the greatest reduction in perceived stress over the eight weeks of dancing. For the partners, there was an improvement in social functioning.
Chesterfield Royal Hospital were the first hospital in the UK to pilot the new programme. The aim of the programme was to improve the physical activity and well-being of recovering cancer patients and their partners. The classes were provided at the hospital free to people getting active after cancer treatment.
Leading a physically active lifestyle during and after cancer treatment is linked to an improvement in many of the adverse effects of cancer and its treatments. Being active can help to prevent and manage some of the effects of treatment, such as overcoming fatigue, depression, anxiety, muscle wasting whilst also protecting risks to the heart, lungs and bones. Yet only a small percentage of people affected by cancer are regularly physically active. We are hoping that the Dancing for Health programmes offer an alternative physical activity plan where they can also bring a partner for support and encouragement. It will also provide a new skill that they can take away and use at home to stay active everyday. The Classes are relaxed, fun and easy to learn. The dance style is gentle and safe and particularly suitable for recovering cancer patients of all ages.
The classes were a pilot study and ran for 8 weeks. We worked with Liam Humpreys, Researcher for Sheffield Hallam University and Project Manager for Macmillan Active Everyday Programme. The positive impact from this pilot study led to a further and longer study funded by Weston Park Cancer Charity to establish the importance of activities like this in relation to people living with and beyond cancer.
There is a shortage of physical activities suitable for people going through or recovering from cancer treatment. This evaluation project funded by Weston Park Cancer Charity assessed the impact of partner dancing on the participant's health, physically, socially, emotionally and psychologically.
It was a 20week study that used quantitative and qualitative methods to assess impact and gather data. We used the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), FACT-G questionnaire in our quantitative evaluation. Weekly feedback back forms and video interviews were used for the qualitative observations.
Overall the results demonstrated improvements on both measures for all participants of the study. Someh had a greater change than others but everyone demonstrated some improvement.
The Fact-G scores at the beginning had an average score of 61.9 and this average improved to 76.8 by the end of the programme. In the case of the PSS-10 the
average pre-programme scores were 18.3 and the final scores were 12.5. Although participant numbers are small for calculating effect sizes these results translate into an effect size of 0.88 for the
Fact-G and 1.02 for the PSS-10. These large effect sizes are very encouraging indicators of the success of the programme.
At the beginning of the programme the average feedback score was 15.6 and by the end of the programme this had improved to 18.5.
Example of a female cancer patient's quantitative data results
The overall summary of her charts show the results of both her FACT-G and PSS demonstrate considerable improvement. Her FACT-G shows a progressive improvement overall of 67% and her PSS shows an overall reduction of her stress levels by 55%.
We worked with Drink Wise Age Well and Age UK to provide partner dance classes within a community setting to help people with age or drink related issues.
There is an increase in people aged over 50 who are turning to alcohol. Drink Wise Age Well and Dancing for Health are collaborated to encourage this group of people to take up a social activity like partner dancing within their local community. Our aim was to improve their health, their relationships, either personal or social and also potentially boost energy levels and self confidence.
The classes engaged them in a new, fun and interesting hobby that initiates socialising without alcohol in a group activity with others aged over 50 who may also be over coming or facing similar difficulties to themselves.