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Marianne Seabright

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board with Rubicon Dance/Culture Step


Many patients are at risk of physical and mental health decline during their hospital stay. Music and dance can lift spirits while encouraging people to move. Introducing music and dance aims to lift mood, promote wellbeing and get people moving in hospital to aid recovery.

Dance with Dementia is a 12 week multi–stakeholder ‘Pilot to Prove’ project. This project took place between September and December 2019. The project was coproduced with the Medicine Clinical Board, the Mental Health Clinical Board and Rubicon Dance.

Weekly Dance classes took place within both medical setting and mental health settings and were facilitated by dance instructors and NHS Staff. The sessions were mapped by Dementia Care Mappers along with additional data, gathered to evidence the effectiveness.

The main focus of this project is around older people 65+ with a cognitive impairment, dementia, depression and other mental health conditions; however no one is excluded if they wish to take part. Carers, relatives and staff are also involved; they may also experience the benefits.

Project Aims:

  • To promote activity, increase mobility and general wellbeing for patients in the general medical setting.
  • To improve patient experience, promote recovery and prevent reconditioning, while bringing enjoyable activity to the medical wards.
  • To promote people to move and engage in social setting, reducing isolation on wards.
  • To increase access to arts in health settings and produce evidence about the impact of arts on patient experience.


After an initial 12 week pilot was completed, we needed to find funds to sustain the project until we found funding for the next financial year. Fortunately, the Executive team recognised the value of the project and agreed to fund further sessions until April 2020. Additional funds were agreed from Culture Step and Cardiff and Vale Health Charity to fund financial year 20-21.

Due to COVID-19, sessions were suspended, encouraging us to develop new and innovative ways of delivering the sessions to ensure the classes are accessible to a wide audience.

Key Outcomes:

Our Dementia Care Mapping showed that during the dance session, the average well/ill being score was above average. It shows us that although individuals gained different levels of benefit from the group, their wellbeing scores were significantly higher than the mapped session undertaken when there was no dance session. With no organised activity the well/ill being scores were significantly lower.

Due to the COVID pandemic, Rubicon have considered different ways to deliver their dance classes; alternative methods are being explored to deliver classes, including live-streaming.

These classes have the potential to reach a much wider demographic, such as isolated people or rural communities.

Some classes have been delivered on Older Adult Mental Health Wards. The physiotherapists have supported the classes, encouraging patients to move and exercise. This has improved the wellbeing of patients and staff during a very difficult time in hospital.

Patient Feedback:

“Wouldn’t it be awful without music in our life?”
“Isn’t it lovely when we get a crowd together?”

“It makes you feel lovely, doesn’t it?”

“ We can let ourselves go here”

Staff Feedback:

“Rubicon has helped to engage patients through the power of music and movement. It’s been really remarkable to see how their spirits lift as their feet tap along and they copy the actions of lovely Sophie. Sophie has a lovely manner and adapts well to the needs of the group as well as ‘taking their lead’ at times to ensure a well-run interactive session. It’s lovely to see patients who are often disengaged in other ways, contributing, singing and smiling. I think it’s an absolute asset to the ward currently and it would be amazing if it continued!”

Natalie Mc Cullock Activities Coordinator, Ward E8

Next Steps:

To consider ways we could deliver these classes to more people. E.g. via Zoom

Our Exemplar Experience:

I am really grateful for all the opportunities being a Bevan exemplar has provided. Being part of this programme really supported the project.



Marianne Seabright: