Arts Together Bursary Recipient – AscenDANCE Digital Dance and Movement Class

In the summer, Arts Together offered bursaries in partnership 100% Digital Leeds for Arts in Care Home Day. The three successful bursaries offered a range of activities for people living in care or those receiving care in other settings.

One of the successful applicants was AscenDANCE, who Zoomed into Headingley Hall Care Home, offering a digital dance and movement class. Artistic Director and Outreach Manager Rachel kindly wrote us a blog talking about how it went:

What happens when someone leaves our regular face to face provision and enters the Care system? Do they have to stop engaging with our programme? Is there a way they can continue to experience the benefits of our dance and creative work? These were the questions we asked ourselves as we looked at how we could sustain engagement with our participants as they experienced new stages in life.

Lots of individuals don’t receive the physical activity that they need to keep their bodies moving and to delay progression of disease and other age-related ailments, especially when they move into Care settings. ‘No One Left Behind’ is Ascendance’s 3-year project which funds digital inclusion across our programme, ensuring that crucial services still reach those to those who need it most and those who, due to where they live, would otherwise lose out on creative and cultural activity.

“When I started this programme, I envisaged a world where members were creatively and physically engaged with meaningful arts activity through all stages of their later life, up to end of life care. Working in Care Homes and Hospices has enabled us to understand the challenges that our users face, as well as the challenges facing care services. We are often asked to work for free in the care sector, which isn’t a sustainable model, and through fundraising drives we try to raise the money to ensure this work can continue and develop. Our team works hard to ensure that we drive through a meaningful dance base programme which ignites people lives and gives aspiration for whatever stage they are at.” – Rachel Wesson, Ascendance Artistic Director and Outreach Manager

Our involvement at Headingley Hall Care Home was sparked by one of our participants, Ashley, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in his mid-60’s. His family circumstances have changed with his partner’s rapid onset of MND and within a year both their lives have changed considerably. In June Ashley moved to his new home at Headingley Hall, eager to continue dancing with us and the friends he has made through our classes.

Partnering with 100% Digital Leeds, we Zoomed into his Care Home, offering a digital dance and movement class. The ‘room’ started with 4 participants and, by the end, 15 people were moving and grooving with us. Programmes like Arts in Care Homes Digital Week mean that, as an organisation, we are making a difference where opportunities to engage are small and where local communities need us the most.

We are continuing to connect with Care Homes and know what amazing benefits active aging and wellbeing can have on our older generations. All this work takes time and money but is incredibly valuable to the people who experience it. As part of the Big Give Christmas Campaign 2023, we will be fundraising so that we can offer subsidised sessions and upskill Care Homes most in need of our work.

If you are interested in our work and what we do, please get in touch at [email protected]