The Swing dance project is a partnership between Dance Base and the Institute for Sport, Physical Education and Health Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. The dance classes target motor and sequencing pathways in the brain, stimulating coordination and enhancing and developing cognitive function in older adults with mild dementia who have limited access to physical and social activity, the sessions are fully or partially seated. The mental health and social capital benefits of dance activities to people with dementia are most definitely real but difficult to measure and standardize. It is now the challenge of the researchers at the University of Edinburgh led by Wendy Timmons (director of the MSc Dance Science and Education programme) to gather further evidence relating to the feasibility and validity of the sessions.
The focus of this pilot project was to first determine the feasibility of the Swing Dance sessions within the day care setting for people with mild dementia and second to evidence possible relationships between the participants’ physical, social and emotional well-being and their participation in the weekly Seated swing sessions. The evaluation was carried out over 10 months and will serve as a pilot study that will inform the future development of the Seated Swing sessions and further research in this area. The BBC clip about the project received over 20m views and was named BBC's no 1 clip for 2017.