Parkinson's dance sessions launched at Southmead Hospital

Friday, 3 February 2017

People with Parkinson's are now benefiting from tailored dance sessions at Southmead Hospital.

The weekly sessions are the first of their kind to be held in Bristol and are open to people with Parkinson's and their carers or friends.

Lerato Dunn leads the Dance for Parkinson's sessions at Southmead Hospital Bristol

Led by dance practitioner Lerato Dunn, Dance for Parkinson's incorporates a range of movements and includes a combination of seated, standing or walking dances enabling people to participate at a level that suits them.

Music, played by volunteer pianist Ros, ranges from the tango to tunes from the 40s and a few favourites to sing along to. 

It is a chance for people with Parkinson's to stretch and move to music with movements that can help with their co-ordination and balance.

They also provide a social space where participants can meet others with Parkinson's with sessions finishing with tea, coffee and conversation.

North Bristol NHS Trust is a leading centre for neurosciences and Parkinson's care and treatment and the dance sessions arranged by the Trust's Fresh Arts programme with funding from Southmead Hospital Charity is providing further support for patients who are under the care of the hospital and members of the local Parkinson's UK branch. 

Participants in the Southmead Hospital Dance for Parkinson's session..

Fresh Arts Programme Manager, Ruth Sidgwick, said: "Dance for Parkinson's helps with co-ordination, balance and stability, but is also about people coming into a group of people in exactly the same position as you and not having to explain why you can't do certain things and having a cup of tea together.

"The sessions are being led by a dance teacher who understands that members of the group have limitations but knows how to push physical movement.

"At a time when your life might be closing in on you these dance sessions show that you can still learn new skills and make new friends."

Tom Phipps, Chairman of the Bristol and District Parkinson's UK Branch, is among the people who have attended the sessions.

"It's enjoyable and it's not strict exercise - it just creeps up on you.

"We did a dance with a feather and that really got me in the zone."

Participants in the Southmead Hospital Dance for Parkinson's session dance with feathers

Chrissie Flenk, said: "It's a bit of fun and anyone can do it.

"It's not just for people with Parkinson's but carers can come and my best friend comes along with me.

"It helps with my co-ordination and balance and it doesn't matter if I have trouble because the people here understand. Everyone is so friendly and supportive.

"Parkinson's tends to diminish you, but I find that by doing this it enhances what I've got." 



Anyone with Parkinson's can attend the sessions at Southmead Hospital every Friday from 10.30am until midday, along with carers, relatives or friends. They are currently free as the project is in its pilot phase but the intention is to introduce a £2 contribution.

Parkinson's Dance UK is funding training for dance practitioners with support from Bristol City Council.