Love to Move brings joy in person and online for George and Chris during lockdown

Before and during lockdown, the benefits of Love to Move have been felt by a couple in Cambridge.

George and Chris first started taking part in Love to Move in 2017, as part of a community class introduced in St Ives, Cambridgeshire.

The seated programme helps people to keep active and healthy as they age; promoting mental wellbeing by enabling friendship to reduce social isolation; and creating opportunities for all to enjoy an activity through supportive networks.

At the time they joined the class, George was living with dementia and struggled physically and verbally.

Qualified Love to Move Deliverer, Kim Hall, said: “At first, I positioned George opposite myself in the sessions so that he could easily follow me. His partner Chris sat next to him to support him one to one.

“At first George couldn’t follow me at all so I would frequently work one to one with him during the session, working directly in front of him. This gradually began to change and eventually George did try and mirror the movements that he was able to do.”

Over time George grew to love the sessions that he and Chris attended regularly, often arriving early to chat and share stories with the other carers and individuals living with dementia within the group.

When Covid-19 hit in March last year, the Love to Move sessions moved online. With no device available to access the classes, George and Chris were unable to take part. It wasn’t until five months later that Kim was able to resume contact with them.

With lockdown still taking place, Kim decided she would take matters into her own hands: “I sadly discovered that George had deteriorated a great deal during the lockdown.

“I arranged to visit George and Chris at their home, working with George from his back garden, so as to maintain a safe distance from them, without any physical contact with them both. Chris would sit George on a chair by the patio doors and I sat in the garden to work with him.

“Chris was overjoyed when we found that despite George’s deterioration over the lockdown and the fact I hadn’t seen him for five months, that he reacted to the music from the sessions and the movements. Despite a break of five months, he remembered so much.

“We continued the weekly sessions from the garden despite the weather, with me sitting in the rain in a pop-up tent!”

George then unfortunately deteriorated further before testing positive for Covid where he was admitted to hospital for a month. Incredibly, George pulled through and is now back home, reunited with Chris, albeit on palliative care.

During the month in which they couldn’t see one another, Kim worked with Chris to help master Zoom, so that she could continue to take part in online Love to Move classes. This also meant that when George returned home, he too was able to listen to the sessions.

Love to Move has been shown to offer great benefits for those in palliative and end of life care, particularly for someone who has a real connection with the sessions.

“Chris initially propped the iPad up on the end of Georges bed so he could see and hear. At the beginning of the class George waved to everyone and joined in with little sections, even making some of the letters of the alphabet section with his arms managing the letter ‘L’ and the letter ‘T’ showing a ‘thumbs up sign’.

“To see them both smiling and sharing something positive with each other and others has been a very humbling experience.”

This week (17th – 23rd May) is Dementia Awareness Week. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, nearly 1 million people live with dementia in the UK and their families are struggling to get the support and care that they need and deserve.

We believe Love to Move can help to support this need. A recent study found that 100% of carers would recommend Love to Move – carers have found understanding, companionship and respite due to the programme.

See more about our Love to Move programme below.