Online classes dance the lockdown blues away for people with Parkinson's in Morecambe

An innovative way of improving the lives of people with Parkinson’s Disease has moved online during the Covid-19 lockdown.

By Michelle Blade
Thursday, 13th August 2020, 4:06 pm
Updated Thursday, 13th August 2020, 4:14 pm
Helen Gould, Mel Brierley and Elisa Macauley, who run the Dance and Parkinson's classes in rehearsal for the dvd and Youtube classes available soon.
Helen Gould, Mel Brierley and Elisa Macauley, who run the Dance and Parkinson's classes in rehearsal for the dvd and Youtube classes available soon.

Lancaster-based LPM Dance had already seen success with their pilot programme of sessions for people with Parkinson’s in Morecambe, Preston, Blackpool and Blackburn when the pandemic struck.

Undeterred in their mission to continue classes, LPM moved them online and have now widened their audience to participants in Manchester, Newcastle and London.

“It’s been exciting to adapt to online sessions and even though we’re not face-to-face, we can see people enjoying themselves,” said Helen Gould who, along with Mel Brierley, runs the twice weekly classes.

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“Zoom also allows us all to have a chat before and after the sessions which is important at a time when people can feel socially isolated.”

The drop-in sessions last an hour and participants can make suggested donations of between £3-£5.

The sessions are attended by people at various stages of Parkinson’s from those recently diagnosed to others who’ve had the disease for 15 years.

Fluidity of movement is a big challenge for people with Parkinson’s so the sessions, involving music and movement, start seated. Improvements begin during the classes and can last for days afterwards.

One participant, Val Higginbotham from Preston, said: “It’s so good to be back, especially as I need it so much – I seem to have lockdown in my muscles!”

While another, Anne Marie Booth from Stockport, described an online session as ‘delightful’. “It really lifted my mood.”

“Although using Zoom means you are not actually meeting people face-to-face, at least I’m getting regular exercise and feel better for it,” added Anne Bradshaw of Fleetwood.

For those unable to participate in the online sessions for work or other reasons, LPM have produced their first DVD with music accompaniment by Lancaster’s Howard Haigh and put a class on YouTube.

During lockdown, LPM are also offering one-to-one sessions and garden classes, individually designed for a suggested donation of £7-£10.

The online programme has been subsidised by a Crowdfunding appeal well supported by the Parkinson’s community who felt the classes should continue during lockdown as they feared symptoms could worsen without them.

Parkinson’s EQUIP, a charity which aims to support arts and sports activities for people with the condition, has also acknowledged the importance of the programme and provided funding.

The online programme runs until the end of September and, subject to further support, LPM hopes it will continue for as long as lockdown lasts.

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