£2.3 million expansion of Aesop’s older people’s falls prevention dance programme

15 May 2017

Following a highly successful period of fundraising*, Aesop is pleased to announce a £2.3 million expansion of its pioneering Dance to Health programme.

Dance to Health is an older people’s falls prevention dance programme. The expanded programme will run for two years involving over 1,000 older people and 1,000 volunteers. 63 programmes will be delivered across England and Wales in collaboration with health/social care and dance partners.

Dance to Health responds to the issue of older people’s falls. Falls are traumatic for older people and currently cost the NHS £2.3 billion per year. Dance to Health aims to be an effective and cost-effective falls prevention programme, offering older people the choice of a dance-based alternative to existing exercise-based programmes. These programmes reduce falls by up to 55%. All Dance to Health ‘Dance Artists’ (these are the programme session leaders) are trained in the evidence-based programmes and fidelity will evaluated over the next two years.

This expansion programme builds on a successful pilot in 2015 and 2016 and an evaluation report published in February 2017.

Announcing the expansion, Tim Joss, Founder and Chief Executive of Aesop, said:
“If an arts programme is evidence-based, can benefit patients and save the NHS money, then it deserves to be available to all patients who could benefit, anywhere in the country. Our goal is for Dance to Health to be the first such programme.”

The Health/social care Partners are: Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, Cheshire West & Chester Council, Connected Care Partnership (NHS Vanguard in Sandwell and West Birmingham), NHS Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS West Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Royal British Legion care homes and Southend-on-Sea Borough Council.

The Dance Partners are all Arts Council-funded dance organisations expert in working with older people: Birmingham Royal Ballet, Cheshire Dance, DanceEast, National Dance Company Wales, South East Dance, The Point Arts Centre and Yorkshire Dance.

Aesop has benefited from, and will continue to receive informal advice and support from individual experts in ‘Dialogue Partner’ organisations: Age UK, Arts Council England, Centre for Ageing Better, NHS England, NHS Horizons, Public Health England, Social Prescribing Network and University of Oxford Institute of Musculoskeletal Sciences.

A 3-minute film about Dance to Health is available here.

Dance to Health
The programme was created in 2014 to help reduce falls amongst the older population, help reduce the cost to the NHS of older people’s falls (£2.3 billion per year) and offer older people the choice of an engaging, sociable dance-based alternative to existing exercise-based programmes.

Comments from participants in the pilot programme:
“I was reluctant to give it a try at first because I was nervous about coming into a room full of strangers. But I’m so glad I did. Now when I come to Dance to Health, I am coming to see my friends.”

“I felt as though I am capable of doing more than I thought. I enjoyed it because I didn’t realise how much mobility I still had, it gives me hope. It made me feel free.”
“My son says he sees a difference in me, because I was fast becoming the woman in the dressing gown. I didn’t go out or do very much.”
“It’s not like anything I’ve done in my life before. But I love it … dancing doesn’t feel like I’m forcing myself to do exercise. I couldn’t have done what I can do now 6 months ago.”

From a health point of view, Dance to Health aims to be an evidence-based, effective, cost-effective, sustainable and scalable programme for the health system.

From an arts point of view, Dance to Health aims to be a high quality participatory arts programme for older people which offers opportunities for dance artists to be creative and develop their artistic practice.

The Pilot Programme evaluation is available here. And can be downloaded here.

Visit Aesop for more information.