A dance and movement psychotherapist from the South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has returned from Canada, after been awarded a place on the 2010 Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship to lecture and present on an innovative branch of dementia care.
The Trust provides mental health and learning disability services to people in Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield and dance and movement psychotherapist Dr Richard Coaten works in Calderdale’s older people’s mental health services.
Richard’s role involves using movement, dance, music and reminiscence techniques to help older people with mental health problems maintain their skills and abilities for as long as possible. The work also helps foster relationships and aims to enable people to continue to live independently in the community.
Richard spent a month in Toronto and Vancouver where he studied the use of movement, dance and other embodied practices for people with dementia and their care-giver’s. During his time in Canada he also gave a presentation at an international conference on arts and dementia and visited world-leading experts to learn first-hand about their pioneering research on the importance of ‘going by way of the body in dementia care’.
This area of dementia research seeks to improve quality of life by better understanding how and why the creative and performing arts give hope and opportunity to all those with dementia.
Richard also spent time at brain research laboratories meeting leading neuroscientists and at a specialist care facility that provides vital care-giver support. On a visit to a specialist day centre in Toronto Richard had the opportunity to hold workshops about his own doctoral research.
In Vancouver Richard was invited to take part in a discussion about developing dance and health activities throughout British Columbia by bringing together cultural planners, dancers and the British Columbia Arts Council.
Richard said, "This was a great opportunity for me to further my knowledge of how dance therapy is being used in different countries at the same time as looking at how we might progress the use of it across the Trust. We are already seeing some positive results and look to further the use of dance and movement therapy in all services across the Trust. This study helped me raise the profile of the Trust abroad and form links with other colleagues in the field. The whole experience has left me inspired."
To find out more about Richard’s travel fellowship visit his personal blog at http://dancingdoctorstrip.blogspot.com