"Our elderly peoples group has newly been introduced to DSES (two sessions so far) and it has truly shown a whole new side to many of our group.
Someone who is usually nodding off during the morning sessions lights up during DSES and really benefits from human touch; holding hands in songs. Someone who usually doesn't talk or move easily has stood up and danced with another volunteer. One of our group used to be a professional dancer and as soon as Suzanne discovered that in conversation she made her feel like her input was important on the dancing. Whoever is leading the group has remembered every members name and remembered their little quirks. This shows that the leaders who alternate has carefully thought about writing down and passing on information about each group they attend to make it as personal as possible. The session itself is amazing, songs from their era, dance moves that disguises exercise as it is fun and to the music. I've seen them do more exercise at these sessions than in any other session we have around movement. DSES really do have the personal touch, kindness with energy and exercise and singing"
Monday Club Activities Coordinator Lewes
DSES have been coming to our home Temple Grove every month for the last 18 months. They bring so much fun and love to the home when they arrive, it’s like we’ve known them forever! They are so kind and outgoing. All our residents enjoy seeing them and their spirits are lifted for the rest of the day.
We have recently started having a craft session with their tutor, Lucy. The last session each resident planted a daffodil bulb with a cloud and castle. It’s been lovely to be able to watch them grow over the last few weeks.
Kerry Grace, Welfare Office, Temple Grove Care Home, Uckfield
My husband (who suffers from dementia) and I (as his carer) have been attending DSES sessions so well organised and with the most gifted, and talented actress/musician Suzanne since they started, at many of their venues. My husband so enjoys these sessions as Suzanne always puts a lot of effort and thought into each varied session and it is always fun with a lot of laughter involved. He loves the singing and dancing and always looks forward to going and it is nice for me to see him enjoying himself and watching his face light up and he finds it very therapeutic. Attending these sessions, and seeing so much happiness in people with dementia, is a joy.
Sue Wren – Wife/Carer
We first met Suzanne, along with Cliff Slack the founder of DSES, over 3 years ago in November 2017! Since then, she and her team have carried the torch for Cliff’s dream of bringing music and joy to people with dementia all over East Sussex. Cliff understood that music could very often unlock the ‘prison’ in which people with dementia sometimes feel stuck; Suzanne takes this principle and adds to it warmth, compassion and fun – and the results are pure joy to see. Her energy, vision, kindness and compassion drive DSES and, having been manager of the TN22 Plus Club in Hadlow Down, a fortnightly Activities and Companionship Club for people with mild-to-moderate dementia for over 7 years , I can hand-on-heart say that Suzanne’s sessions are the most well-received of any invited entertainers we have ever had ( and that is saying something as we have had some wonderful, professional contributors in the past). Suzanne’s professional approach and musicality is first-rate; what makes Suzanne unique is her instinctive understanding of people as individuals, and that people with dementia especially need to be acknowledged and related to as individual adults. She remembers their names, their likes, their quirks and relates to each person with warmth and plenty of eye-contact and never treats them as if they were children; her tone and approach is perfect with each person and she can draw out even the quietest or most reluctant Club member. Yes, Suzanne brings a touch of magic to our sessions that we all – and I include my large team of retiree volunteers in this – blossom and benefit from.
The icing on the cake from all this is that she and her wonderful team make no charge for their musical gifts to us and relay solely on grants and donations to keep DSES running in the way that their founder envisioned. We felt Cliff’s loss when he passed away, but I know how proud he would be of the way Suzanne has not only carried forward, but grown, his work and vision. During this past year of the 2020+ pandemic, Suzanne and her team worked with their clients to deliver ‘garden-singing’ sessions – for us, at ‘TN22 Plus Club’, that meant that she and I spent many a happy hour last summer, all over the Wealden area, singing in our Club members’ gardens, socially distanced of course, come rain or shine! And shine is the word I would like to end on.
Suzanne often ends her session with Morecambe and Wise’s ‘Bring me Sunshine’; she absolutely does – long may it continue.
Wendy Coleman, Manager TN22 Plus Club (Engage)
We have had the benefit of having the DSES players visiting us at Milton Grange Day Centre in Eastbourne for the last 2 years. They come into the centre 3 times a month and our clients benefit from them presenting an hour and a half of sheer enjoyment.
They come in bringing their props, music, songbooks and enthusiasm. They all invest a lot of time and energy encouraging the clients to join in with a sing-a-long, they have an enormous amount of energy and have a definite flair for bringing the elderly clients out of themselves and even the people with limited mobility, memory loss and dementia, clap, tap their feet and become animated when they are with us.
They make extra special effort when a special event comes along and we have celebrated Royal Weddings, Christmas, Easter and sang Happy Birthday to staff, clients and visitors.
The group take extra time to get to know the clients and they know their names and individual personalities and take time to talk to them after the sing-a-long.
We understand that they have come to the end of their funding and we urge anyone who can to give them additional funds for a further period so that they can continue to come into us and enhance our client’s lives.
Janice Phillips, Intermediate Care Manager
Milton Grange Day Care and Mental Health Services
They were absolutely amazing. A Vera Lynn theme; aside from having an amazing voice, they had each and every person regardless of their stage of life engaged. An extremely, clever engagement method. Everyone, singing, dancing, waving flags, shaking different items. She had one man in a wheelchair lift himself up and start dancing to the delight of his wife, who had visited him at the time of the event.
Debbie Peaford - Parish Councillor of Wadhurst
It is customary for a newly elected Chairman of Wealden District Council to select a charity to support and promote during the term of office. I had no hesitation; the choice for me was obvious. I was delighted to be able to promote DSES.
It has been a joy to see the charity grow, to watch first-hand their amazing work and dedication to their mission, and to witness the difference they make to those living with dementia in our District.
Dementia is a growing problem so the work of DSES has proved to be invaluable to not only those living with dementia, also those who care for them.
Watching DSES communicate through song, dance, arts & crafts is extremely moving. One cannot help but be affected by their kindness, enthusiasm and professionalism as they strive to improve the lives of those people they love to serve.
Like us all, DSES faced challenges through lockdown but, with sheer dedication and hard work they continued to spread joy and laughter. During the summer months, when it was impossible to meet inside, they adapted by taking their sessions out to gardens and green spaces. These sessions not only entertained the people they visited, on one occasion a neighbour climbed a ladder to join in over the fence. Their sessions, which included a special Birthday Party to celebrate Captain Tom’s 100th birthday delivered much needed laughter and escapism not only to dementia sufferers, but also for those caring for them.
As summer turned to autumn DSES adapted again by delivering their activities online. Their popular Zoom sessions offer music and movement, Create and Chat sessions, and now they are delivering 1-1 calls/online sessions to offer a familiar voice to those who are really missing the social interaction in these difficult times.
DSES make a real difference to our community and I am extremely proud to support them.
Pam Doodes, Chair of Wealden District Council