Senior salsa brings home the power of staying active

21 Apr 2017
Daniel Innes with a resident ... "every morning the stereo went on and I was on my feet, being led around the make-shift dancefloor"

University of Queensland physiotherapy student Daniel Innes can list salsa dancing as one of his skills when he graduates next year.

Mr Innes has completed a five-week placement at the Buckingham Gardens aged care home at Alexandra Hills in Brisbane, in what turned out to be a hands-on experience.  

“Every morning the stereo went on and I was up on my feet, being led around the make-shift dance floor,” he said.

“The memory of that will always illustrate for me the power of keeping active.

“I’m looking to work in the stroke rehabilitation field, so this has been great experience.

“There are just so many personalities here. They are all so different.”

Fellow UQ physiotherapy student Taranjot Minhas, who also spent five weeks at Buckingham Gardens, said she enjoyed the opportunity to apply classroom learning to real-life situations.

“This is not a simulated environment,” Ms Minhas said. “This is real. Real people with real issues.

“During my placement, I was involved with problem solving for particular patients in one-on-one treatments to get improvements in their function and abilities.

“I was happy to see that finding a simple alternative such as a different chair for the resident can make such a big difference to their mood and self-esteem.

“It was also wonderful to see one of the residents' gait improving after each dance session with my suggested modifications for his dance moves.”

Churches of Christ Care Seniors and Supported Living Director Bryan Mason said the UQ School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences students had brought valuable expertise, skills and care to their work at Buckingham Gardens.

“It was great to have them here to work with us on an innovative gym program that is helping our senior residents to get out of bed after injury and back into an active lifestyle,” Mr Mason said.

The aged-care operator has this year installed specialised gym equipment in its residential care facilities at Bribie Island and Mitchelton.

“It’s quite common after a stroke, sickness or a fall that requires bed rest for a person’s muscles to decline,” Mr Mason said.

“Our physiotherapists give people back their independence by designing specialised exercise programs on this rehabilitation-specific equipment.”

Mr Mason said the exercise room at Alexandra Hills had been designed for seniors. The equipment had extra padding and machines worked on air pressure rather than clunky weights.

Mr Mason said one woman arrived at the care home from hospital after being told she would never walk again.

“The physios started her off on a light exercise program, then got her in the gym,” he said.

“After a couple of months she stood up on her own and walked.

“Another resident, post cancer treatment, wasn’t able to lift a cup. After time in the gym lifting weights, the 86-year old has now put on muscle and increased his strength by 900 per cent.”

Mr Mason said the gym program was having an “uplifting” effect on the wellbeing of staff and residents.

“The results are so inspiring,” he said. “The more uplift we can bring to a person, the less they are thinking about the things they can’t do and more about the things they can.”

Images: (above) A resident with Daniel Innes ... "every morning the stereo went on and I was on my feet, being led around the make-shift dancefloor". (Below) Taranjot Minhas (left) and Daniel Innes, with residents. "Finding a simple alternative such as a different chair for the resident can make such a big difference to their mood and self-esteem," Taranjot said.

Contact: UQ Communications, Dani Nash,, +61 7 3346 3035; Churches of Christ Care, Steven Henderson, +61 7 3363 1821.