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. Existing falls prevention programmes have been described as “dull as ditchwater” by the Royal College of Physicians Clinical Falls Lead, and there is low take-up and adherence to these more traditional methods.
Dance to Health aims to be an effective and cost-effective falls prevention programme, offering older people the choice of a fun, dance-based alternative to existing exercise programmes. These programmes have since been proven to reduce falls by up to 55%. All Dance to Health ‘Dance Artists’ (session leaders) are trained in the evidence-based programmes; and participants themselves report the positive effects. One says: “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.”
An OCF seed-funding grant supported delivery of two evidence-based pilot programmes in Abingdon and Banbury – including evaluation such as the monitoring of falls and of visits to doctors. Aesop has gone on to secure funding for a £2.3 million nationwide roll-out of the Dance to Health programme.
Chief Executive Tim Joss commented: “Oxfordshire Community Foundation was one of our very precious early adoptors – a funding partner who backed the Dance to Health concept before it had begun to be realised. Your early investment has led to us putting together and raising funds for significant expansion.”
This project is an excellent example of investing in a pilot project that acts a testing ground for new ideas. The pilot provided evidence that was proof of concept for the project’s method, enabling the charity to leverage funding from other sources and scale up the idea nationally. OCF’s wise early investment had a wide and long-term impact.