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Newcastle Gateshead Clinical Commisioning Group

Newcastle Gateshead Clinical Commisioning Group

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Dancing to keep older people on their feet

Older people in the West End of Newcastle are dancing their way to health and happiness thanks to an innovative programme delivered with local GPs.

They are taking part in contemporary dance classes at West Denton Community Centre in a 12-week initiative called Falling on Your Feet.

Three GP practices in that area came together on the project which they hope will improve strength and balance in older people and counter social isolation, as well as helping to prevent dementia.

Newcastle-based Helix Arts, which organises Falling on Your Feet, was among 11 organisations which won funding from the NHS Newcastle Gateshead Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) through the £100,000 Innovation Fund.

The innovation fund is intended to bridge the gap between what is already on offer and what patients need, helping healthcare professionals to work in new ways.

Falling on Your Feet, organised by Newcastle-based Helix Arts, is run by Nadia Iftkhar from the Red Rose Dance Theatre and Cheryl Gavin of Helix Arts. The first session was held last week and was a big hit, with subsequent dates sure to fill up quickly.

Catherine Hearne, chief executive of Helix Arts, said that at the end of the dance programme, there could be a performance for friends and family.

“It’s early days but so far, so very good,” she said. “It has been a real success and we’ve had people coming along and saying, ‘I have this problem with my elbow,’ or ‘It’s my knee’ but our dancer Nadia is really equipped to deal with people’s pains, helping them become more confident and flexible.

“We are keeping the sessions to a maximum of 20 people and we also have a second dancer in the room, as well as organiser Cheryl Gavin, so if we see someone needs it we can help them out.”

The dance group will meet every Monday and Friday until Easter for an hour of activity, followed by downtime with a cup of tea and chance to chat.

Clinical Chair of NHS Newcastle Gateshead CCG, Dr Guy Pilkington, said: “I’m delighted to hear that this dance initiative has found so many fans among the over-65s in the West End of Newcastle.

“Dancing is a fun way to keep fit, improve flexibility and balance and help reduce the likelihood of falls. Falling on Your Feet will give older people confidence in their movements, as well as helping to reduce the social isolation that can lead to health problems. In this way we keep older people happy and healthy within their communities.”

When the project is finished, Helix Art will work with a public health researcher from Northumbria University to evaluate the changes the participants subsequently make in their lives.

Over-65s in the Westerhope, West Denton and Fenham areas who would like to attend one of the Falling On Your Feet sessions should book their place by phoning 0191 241 4931.