'Knowing the group members get so much out of these sessions reminds me why I do this,' says Henrietta Mackinnon, Alzheimer’s Support’s newest Movement for the Mind instructor.

Henrietta - who likes to be known as Hen – is a personal trainer and movement therapist who has recently started to lead the group which meets at the Quaker Meeting House in Devizes every other Tuesday afternoon.

Music for the Mind was founded by Alzheimer's Support in 2011 and the charity now runs five groups across Wiltshire, with more planned for 2018. The sessions encapsulate how the organisation supports people to live well with dementia. The finely-tuned blend of exercise to music, social interaction and reminiscence helps people regain confidence in themselves and their abilities, provides a social outing and helps stimulate brain function.

Hen said: 'You can see the people’s mood change as they go through the session. Their confidence grows as if they are saying to themselves ‘I can do this’. What matters to me is that the members have come out, done some exercise in a social setting and they go away feeling great.'

Hen began her career doing relief work in developing countries before returning to the UK where she qualified as a Level 3 registered exercise professional. An avid runner, she competes in marathons as well as helping others train for them. Sport and exercise have played a big part in her life and it was the lack of opportunities for older age groups that lead her to become a movement therapist.

'Looking at the market I noticed there were classes left and right for the younger, more able generations. You’ve got spin classes and all the others offered at gyms, but not so much available to the older generation,' Hen said.

One hallmark of movement therapy is that the exercises are done more slowly, at a pace that is appropriate for the older, even frail group members. There is often a variety of different abilities within a typical Movement for the Mind group so Hen has not been without challenges since she began.

She said: 'I think the learning curve I’ve had to go through from being a personal trainer is to really make an effort to slow down a bit and try and simplify things. For example, I need to remember not to throw in too many different exercises. I’ve also had to work at finding music that fits the exercise, which is something I’ve never really had to think about.'

Another element that makes Movement for the Mind so special is the use of reminiscence to bond the group and make the activities meaningful to people whose focus is often in the past. Hen is learning to draw on and incorporate members’ own experiences. When a marching action came up in a recent session she asked the ex-servicemen and women in the room to help others with their technique.

Hen also knows she isn’t perfect and regards that as something that works in her favour when instilling belief into her group members. She said: 'My coordination isn’t actually that great but then not being perfect has helped me to build a rapport with the group members and has helped them build confidence in themselves.'

Alzheimer’s Support runs six Movement for the Mind groups across Wiltshire. Our groups