Dance and Movement Group
A story by Bodysurf Scotland
The Dance and Movement Group (DMG) commenced in September 2013 after an essential planning and preparation period. The project has, so far, delivered 11 x 2-hour dance and movement therapy sessions to a group of 6 children with additional support needs and disabilities, alongside 11 x 2-hour short breaks for 12 carers, within the Nairnshire area.
Working with a Registered Dance and Movement Psychotherapist to provide a service that otherwise would not exist for the client group, the DMG has enabled the development of a strong partnership between Bodysurf Scotland and the Highland Council, alongside the training of young volunteers (working in partnership with HighLife Highland) and a core staffing team.
Tip 1:1. Starting work with a new partner, especially in the public sector, may well take more time than you expect. Be prepared for new procedures, the establishment of new working methods/relationships.
Tip 2:2. Be bold and think big and remember to have fun too!
Tip 3:3. Having time to debrief with the team and lend a supportive ear to each other is important.
Parent of child F who has autism on the significant end of the spectrum has said: “it makes a real difference to his well being to run, play, release energy after school, when ordinarily he is stuck at home”. Another parent (of child E) has said “in the last 3 years we have been looking for something for E to be involved in and haven’t found it until now.”
A third parent also commented that the DMG is “fantastic” for her child and asked about similar projects of its kind.
In addition, parent of child E, who has complex support needs, said that she feels happy and relaxed knowing her son is enjoying himself and is included in something that he hasn’t been able to do before; another parent comments “my husband and I are enjoying some time to ourselves - this is really rare!”
Social connections between carers who may otherwise have no contact with each other are also emerging from the DMG, including car sharing between parents allowing for longer break times and indicating the growth of a supportive caring community amongst the client group.
Parent of child A commented: “his siblings benefit from not having him around all the time and the attention always going to him. I can give time to my other children, helping with their homework or listening to stories from the day.”
In addition to the opportunity to spend more time as a family, the DMG is open to participation by siblings who may benefit from and utilise the dance and movement activities as a break for themselves. We have one young carer confirmed to begin sessions in January 2014. (The group will increase to 7).
They have formed a robust and capable partnership. Bodysurf Scotland has become familiar with the social care sector, forming links with other organisations and service providers (Connecting Carers, Out of the Darkness Theatre Company, National Autistic Society).
Bodysurf Scotland has gained a significant and important understanding of the nature and formal processes of working with a local authority and has increased knowledge of recent sector developments (such as Self-Directed Support).
Young volunteers allocated by HighLife Highland have grown in confidence and skill, with their enjoyment reflected in their 90% attendance to sessions so far.
Bodysurf Scotland’s Artistic Director, Karl Jay-Lewin states “the Dance and Movement Group has allowed us to engage in much more inclusive practice, recognising the huge benefit that comes from working within this field.
We are now encouraging our colleagues and partners to follow, with our next Culture Café event being held in Nairn Hospital on the theme of the arts in health and wellbeing. This work has inspired me to attend such events as the Self-Directed Support workshop held by SenScot, thus expanding our knowledge and networks to be able to deliver more.”
Through providing this opportunity, the DMG provides as safe and rewarding activity for children while improving quality of life and the wellbeing of carers.
We have conducted regular informal check-ins and formal evaluation, asking for feedback from carers in regards to the value of the break provided and whether this can be improved upon or additional provisions (such as transport of social opportunities) supplied.
Time and resources were put into visiting the parent and the school of a participant in order to learn the most effective way of communicating and interacting with the child, thus ensuring consistency, commitment and quality to the child’s on-going participation. This is also a further example of how we dealt with unexpected challenges.(see also 2.10). So as not to withdraw service to the child, more time was put into managing the issue and needs.
Bodysurf Scotland has learnt about the Self-Directed Support policy that is currently being rolled out across the Highlands, ahead of other local authorities. Jeni-Lin Knott, a member of the core staffing team, holds a place on the Children’s Disability Services Self-Directed Support Operations Team and has specific expertise within this area. Bodysurf Scotland aims to ensure that the Dance and Movement Group and related provision is made sustainable and available to be offered as a Self-Directed Support package that will complement statutory provision in the future.
Through the project, Bodysurf Scotland aims to meet every wellbeing indicator set out in the Scottish Government’s policy ‘Getting it Right for Every Child’, including:
• Healthy: having the highest attainable standards of health and access to healthcare.
• Active: having opportunities to take part in activities such as play, recreation and sport.
• Included: having help to overcome social educational, physical and economy inequalities and being accepted as part of the community in which they live and learn.
Other unexpected challenges within the initial stages of the project, included referred participants moving out of the area and others withdrawing at short notice, thus increasing workload and lengthening the recruitment process. A direct result of running an after-school activity is that both the referral process and the dance and movement activities were restricted to term time, delaying provision until September 2013.
The compatibility of the recruited participants had unexpected challenges. Although referrals indicated the group would be compatible, the needs of some participants were much greater and also different than we were informed of and therefore anticipated, resulting in more work being done to ensure safety and wellbeing, lengthening the initial stages and settling-in period and requiring the participant group to be smaller than planned.
Although this extended preparation and planning period resulted in the project being delayed, the creation of formal contracts, policies, procedures and risk assessments in alongside the training of staff and volunteers, has provided Bodysurf Scotland with robust administrative and procedural systems in order to support health and social sector provision. Bodysurf Scotland is growing in confidence in the sector and committed to further developing knowledge and expertise in this area for the future delivery of service. The above learning will undoubtedly benefit future initiatives and projects.
The greatest unexpected benefit of the project is the scale of what we have learnt as an organisation. The degree of which Bodysurf Scotland is now engaged in the social care sector has increased far beyond what we imagined. Furthermore there is eagerness and willingness of other highly effective organisations to partner and work with us.
An additional benefit that the Children’s Disability Service has identified and stated is that Bodysurf Scotland has been both flexible and able to think creatively and adapt to the changing needs of the project.
With regards to recruitment for the forthcoming one-to-one services, participants who would otherwise have limited/restricted access to the group provision, due to their complex physical and behavioural needs were chosen (see below.) These families will receive 6 x 3 hour breaks both after-school and at weekends – the families therefore do not miss out on not having this resource, due to their child’s disability and challenges.
In addition, upon recognising a lack of provision for young people (aged 12 +) within the Nairnshire area, the project has been tailored to provide a school holiday play-scheme for participants of this age. This client group will benefit from a holiday club, where traditionally services are targeted more at younger children.
Children without additional support needs in the 12+ age group, ordinarily start having increased freedom and independence from their families. Having “no place to go and nothing to do” becomes obvious for the families around this age.
The play-scheme breaks of 4 hours duration will provide longer, more quality breaks to carers, by introducing a lunch break and support work time on top of the existing Dance and Movement service delivery model.
For the scheduled one-to-one sessions, one participant with cerebral palsy will receive a service as part of her overall need for movement, highlighted in her Child’s Plan. Child G has very limited physical capacity and opportunities outside of her sitting position. The Dance and Movement Psychotherapist will work alongside child G’s physiotherapist and core staff to show the team around child G how to maximize her capacity.
This joint work provides a lasting legacy and benefit to child G’s participation, with the work of the Dance and Movement Psychotherapist continuing after delivery of sessions, through the training passed on to others of child G’s body-movement capacity. These sessions will take place directly after school, in the child G’s school base where the resources from the school will be used, including a waterbed and other supportive aids and equipment. Transport will then be provided home.
The second participant of the one-to-one sessions has challenging behaviour and is unable to participate in a group without major disruption. Child H loves to dance and move and on a one-to-one basis is best able to participate in this project. Her family will receive 6 x 3 hour breaks on a weekend, ensuring they do not miss out on the service due to their child’s challenges.
The workshop attended in Inverness regarding the Better Breaks fund was very well delivered and we felt it valuable to attend. Our contact with staff throughout the 9 month report and new application process has been extremely supportive.
Participant and carer figures, including return rate, to ensure we are meeting our numerical aims.
Observational evaluation and conversations with carers at regular interval to ascertain the value of the break to the carer, what aspects the carer enjoys and where we could improve. Please note that, through the Short Breaks Evaluation Toolkit, Bodysurf Scotland has identified that this evaluation procedure must be more formally recorded. In light of this, evaluation forms will be issued to carers at regular intervals from now on.
An opportunity at the end of each group session for participants to reflect upon what they liked and did not like, using both verbal and non-verbal feedback (a visual form, similar to the feedback form on page 18 and 19 of the Short Breaks evaluation Toolkit)
The creation of a short film in order to share the activities of the Dance and Movement Group, alongside our progress and learning, with other organisations.
Engagement in sector debate and the formation of links to other organisations to ensure Bodysurf Scotland is aware of the current issues and developments facing the health and social care sector.
Regular project evaluation, including budget monitoring, team debriefs and training.