From wheelchair to ballroom by 100th birthday

99-year-old dancing queen, May Choraffa’s, days on the dance floor looked like they were over when a serious hip injury left her in a wheelchair, but thanks to a remarkable rehabilitation programme at Belong Wigan, the plucky ‘Strictly’ fan is now back on her feet, with the hope of tapping those twinkle toes once again by her 100thbirthday, this year.

The lifelong ballroom dancer began her recovery at the village in January 2018, after a hip impairment left her unable to walk. Determined to regain her mobility, she embarked upon a rehabilitation journey at the care operator’s gym, with the help of specialist fitness instructors and state-of-the-art facilities, such as SilverFit virtual reality equipment, used to develop core muscles.

Now, a year into her personal exercise programme, May has said goodbye to her wheelchair, is strong enough to walk with just the help of a frame, and has set herself a target to dance again by her 100thbirthday in May.

The success of May’s rehabilitation at Belong Wigan has been acknowledged by the NHS Leading Change, Adding Value framework as an example of best practice in this field. In a published case study, the village has been recognised for identifying the importance of the exercise instructor role in supporting the mobility and independence of residents in a dementia care setting.

May said: “The exercise programme has changed my life. I never thought I would be able to walk again, but thanks to my fitness instructor, Ryan, and the amazing facilities in the gym, I don’t have to hang up my dancing shoes just yet.

“I now have the strength and confidence to be the active and independent person I always have been and I look forward to getting back on the dance floor for my 100thbirthday celebrations.

Exercise instructor, Ryan Cadman, commented: “May is a lovely lady and it has been incredible to see her mobility go from strength to strength over the last year.

“I’m really proud of how far she has come and thrilled that all of our hard work has contributed to best practice in this area. I hope the case study helps others, like May, to get back on their feet.”

Belong is committed to supporting people to live well through exercise and, as such, all Belong village customers have access to an exercise studio equipped with specialist equipment, which is supervised by instructors qualified in fitness and exercise for older people.