Sam Cross, Managing Director at The Independent Living Advisor CIC, talks about how telecare can help give confidence and freedom. 

Plymouth’s monthly ‘Tea Dance with a Twist’ is always about the ‘Twist’. It’s no surprise that last Saturday’s twist was that it had a Christmas theme. They hired a brilliant live band who were decorated in their finery, with their lead vocalist getting in the swing of the event by pinning small baubles on his unruly beard!

Organised by Plymouth Dance, this innovative tea dance was set up to be an inclusive event for those in Plymouth and the surrounding area. It’s ‘inclusive’, as they also have an added independent living zone (another of their twists). This zone is an area which is designed to offer information and support about wellbeing, health and independence. It is a somewhat unusual addition to a fun event and it provides support for people with all abilities to have some fun in a very safe and supporting environment.

Saturday’s event was no different, the place was buzzing and the faces were beaming. The dancers and volunteers ensured that all attendees had opportunity to join in, no one was excluded. One lovely moment, was when a gentleman was helped up from his chair by a young volunteer. She allowed him to stabilise and gain his balance, before she led him into the most beautiful waltz. Another special moment was when a dementia carer, met up with her elderly client and joined him on the dance floor to sway to one of the Christmas tunes. There was so much happiness in the room – even more so, when the young man with the baubled beard jumped into the middle of the dance floor and energized the room by singing amongst the dancers.

So, where does Telecare come into this? If people can dance, it may be thought that they don’t need equipment. However, not all of the dancers had full mobility, nor were they in the best of health. Dancers with limited ability required greater communication from the specialist dance instructors – who patiently showed people how to move safely to enjoy the music. This wonderful event was held in the spacious Plymouth Guildhall, which allowed all abilities to move freely.

At the Independent Living Advisor stand, Saturday’s topic of conversation was very much about how Telecare can enable people to maintain their independence at home. At the dance, it was clear that a few of the attendees were carers – they welcomed the idea of being able to use Telecare devices to enable them to care with more confidence and maybe even give them a little freedom; whilst knowing that they could be alerted, if needed.

Being a monthly event, the tea dance offers opportunity for those who have not accessed their GP or other health services for some time to talk to an expert about any concerns they may have. The independent living zone offers an area to support these confidential conversations. It may sound fairly straight forward, but it has become evident that some of the most significant conversations take place over a cup of tea and a piece of cake.