Case Study: The Body Hotel Moving Respite

Authors(s), Creator(s) and Contributors: Thania Acarón, director & leader facilitator, The Body Hotel

Publication Date: 22/08/2023

Categories: Case Studies

Partner(s): Health Education and Improvement Wales; Wales School for Social Prescribing Research

Funder(s): Arts Council Wales; Health Education and Improvement Wales


The Body Hotel Moving Respite is an employee wellbeing programme which ran as a pilot from Nov 2021 to April 2022, funded by ACW and HEIW. Its main objective was to trial and evaluate a dance/movement-based burnout prevention programme for HEIW and Health Board employees and understand the contributions of movement to organisational development. The project provided weekly online sessions, intensives and created video content on movement for wellbeing. The project also involved creating a documentary film of the process, and commissioning 5 movement specialists to create wellbeing strategies videos as an add-on resource for the project and online platforms. The project underwent evaluation by the Wales School of Social Prescribing Research based at University of South Wales.

The Challenge

Project gathered evidence of the efficacy of body-based self-care techniques in reducing compassion fatigue symptoms and increasing workplace wellbeing in HEIW & NHS Wales. Project addressed areas of interest in HEIW, such as equality/diversity and informed initiatives on compassionate leadership principles. Sessions provided a trajectory for dance/movement as essential for burnout prevention. The evaluation conducted by Wales School of Social Prescribing Research concluded that the participants noticed behavioural change following their participation, felt that it was freeing or liberating, that it helped them to cope physically and mentally, and/or felt that it would help others. Its aim is to become implemented Wales-wide in the future and featured in social prescription initiatives.

The Approach

The programme provided 12 online weekly sessions, two wellbeing drop in-sessions during HEIW Wellbeing Week, and two in-person three-hour intensives at University of South Wales. Additionally, 5 movement specialists were commissioned to create short movement-for-wellbeing strategies [Body Concierge] which were published online via social media and served as a resource to promote movement as a tool for employee wellbeing for a wider audience. Artists included Wales-based, Welsh-speaking and Latinx international movement specialists. A video documentary was created to capture the output programme, with testimonials from participants and stakeholders, with versions available in BSL and with Welsh captions. Engagement The programme originally was only intended for HEIW employees, but after some discussion, some places were opened up to Wales NHS Health Board employees in an effort to expand its reach and develop ongoing relationships with NHS Wales Health Board Staff. Staff attended from all across Wales. A positive of Wales-wide recruitment was targeting staff who had been on medical leave as part of their transition back to work. 32 participants signed up to the programme. Outputs included a poster, evaluation report & article on Compassionate Leadership Principles.

The Impact

The aim of this study was to assess the feasibility of evaluating the 'Moving Respite' project and to understand the experiences of participants. Participants reported the following benefits from the project: ·       Safe, judgment-free space ·       Improvement in both mental and physical wellbeing ·       Increased sense of belonging to a group and developing connections to others in the group. ·       Integration of the techniques used in their everyday life ·       Valuing of movement as an important tool for wellbeing 32 Participants enrolled and were referred by the collaborating agencies (HEIW and UHBs) and through self-reported interest. 19 participants completed Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire Health & Wellbeing Subscale at the beginning and ending of the project. In-depth interviews were conducted by WSSPR. Additional opportunities were offered for participants to provide testimonials (anonymised) about their experiences in the project. The quantitative data was analysed using software ‘Practice Better’. Arts-based methods were analysed using thematic analysis. Evaluation stressed the benefit for future key target groups, namely staff returning from medical leave, and benefits for staff undergoing menopausal symptom

Lessons Learned

Offering a variety of delivery formats was a positive, but project could be embedded within staff development activities. More lead-in time for tasters to ensure buy-in from both the Comms team and participants. Online booking platform worked well, but needs more ways to increase engagement with the digital tools. Evaluation concluded that the burden of data collection should be removed from The Body Hotel administrator & supplemented with a research assistant. This was due to having to reduce the evaluation budget due to funding constraints.

The Legacy

This project set a positive trajectory and precedent for movement-for-wellbeing projects. Partners welcomed the need for more workshops and HEIW evaluated this positively. The impact of the Body Concierge series and the documentary video led to a successful bid for a new commission for Cultural Ctwsch in Autumn 2022. Powys & Cwm Taf reported its benefits and have commissioned future work to roll out to other Health Boards. WSSPR has included the project within its social prescribing case studies and voiced support for future funding bids.

Website and Social Media Links

The Body Hotel is a Wales-based dance movement psychotherapy social enterprise focusing on movement as a tool for employee wellbeing. Website: Instagram / Facebook / Linked In / Twitter: @thebodyhotel Links & Resources: Moving Respite- short documentary on The Body Hotel’s most recent employee wellbeing programme working with Health and Education Improvement Wales. Project funded by Arts Council Wales and evaluated by Wales School for Social Prescribing Research (WSSPR). BSL Version: BSL Version with Welsh captions: BSL Translator: Helen Foulkes Film by: Sam Irving Body Concierge (Wellbeing Short Video Series) Tips, ideas and strategies to keep up our movement wellbeing practice-

Contact Details

Dr Thania Acarón The Body Hotel Email:

Tags: Arts health & wellbeing, Dance movement psychotherapy, Dance therapy, Therapeutic dance, Employee wellbeing, Movement for wellbeing, Movement, Wellbeing

The Body Hotel Moving Respite