Invitation to the dance Dance for people with dementia and their carers By Heather Hill

This little book is the first of a series about the arts in dementia care. It focuses primarily on movement and is written in a concise way with clearly marked subject headings and lots of anecdotal evidence.

The author sees dance as an opportunity to 'see behind the mask' of dementia and gives ideas on how to begin a dance group from scratch, emphasising how easily dance can be aligned to person-centred dementia care.

The book is written in a very positive fashion, explaining that you do not need extensive dance training, or even to be a good dancer - a sense of humour and enthusiasm for the subject is more important.

Lots of practical, commonsense advice is given.

This includes: ensure that the group feels secure, that sessions are held in a place where there will not be constant interruptions, and that warm-up sessions are vital - both to get energy going and to include all participants, whatever their ability or enthusiasm.

She suggests that simply clapping hands to a beat can be instrumental in reviving enthusiasm for rhythm and beat.

Hill stresses that, although it is important and sensible to structure the session (she suggests a 20-minute slot for first sessions), leaders need to be open to the suggestions of the group and to realise that the carefully thought out plan may become redundant.

It is important to make people feel included, whatever their ability and possible preconceptions.

Another tip is to call the session 'movement to music' rather than dance if people are reluctant to try it and if they make comments such as 'I can't dance' or 'real men do not dance'.

Music for the sessions can come from a variety of sources:

singing, recorded music, instruments, or just a solitary drum beat.

The best use of props, such as scarves, is also explored.

A point that is made several times is the absolute importance of the leader being alert to the mood of the group - 'to observe, listen and be sensitive to where they (and you) are today'.

If I were the manager of a care home for people with dementia, this book would probably not incline me to rush into organising a group movement session.

However, the germ of the idea would be encouragingly sewn.