Strictly Come Dancing: Older patients at Guy’s and St Thomas’s start dancing to help fitness

Josh Salisbury (09 December, 2019)

"When I finish I feel like I could run out – I feel 30 again."

33760OAPs pictured at the dance classes

Older patients at Guy’s Hospital have been inspired by Strictly to take to the dancefloor themselves.

The Older Persons Assessment Unit at the hospital is running ten-week classes for those over-60 in a bid to reduce falls among the elderly.

Hits including Nancy Sinatra’s ‘These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ and Bill Withers’ ‘Lovely Day’ are used to teach patients new moves and improve their health.

Among those who’ve benefited from the Breathe Dance sessions is 60-year-old Heather Burke, from Elephant and Castle. The mother-of-six suffers from arthritis and has poor mobility.

“When I start the class I’m sore but when I finish I feel like I could run out – I feel 30 again. It’s given me confidence and I’ve become friends with the other people taking part,” said the grandmother to fifteen.

Barbara Robson, who is 89 and also lives in Southwark, said the classes helped to stop her from feeling lonely, as she lives alone without family.

“Each week is full of laughter and gives me an emotional lift, which is so important,” she said.

The classes are finished with a cup of tea and a chat – and the hospital said the pilot has been so successful they will commission it again in the New Year.

“All our patients have done incredibly well on the course and get a 10 for effort from me,” said Alexandra Denning-Kemp, a senior specialist physiotherapist at the Trust.

“I’ve seen their confidence grow each week and their progression has been astounding – some of them no longer use walking aids.”

The classes are run by Stella Howard, who has been a dance teacher for twenty years. “Stella doesn’t just put the music on and ignore it, she uses the rhythm to encourage you,” said Ms Robson.


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