A CARE home in Christchurch has defended its decision to provide pole dancing entertainment for its residents.

Fairmile Grange, which is situated in the grounds of Christchurch Hospital, has come under fire for organising the “inappropriate” activity for residents, some of whom have dementia.

But the specialist nursing home, which only opened last year, said both relatives and residents had been requesting “more modern-style activities” and, when given the choice, “welcomed” the pole dancers’ performance.

County Councillor Peter Hall, who represents the ward where Fairmile Grange is based, said he was “absolutely surprised” that this entertainment had taken place.

“I can’t answer for what the county’s view would be, but my view is that it is completely inappropriate for a care home. It’s not really the sort of entertainment I would have thought that the residents wanted or would have encouraged.”

He added: “I would have thought there would have been rules and guidance that didn’t allow that. I should have thought the manager had a set of rules they should abide by.”

Cllr Denise Jones, champion for older people in Christchurch, said while she thought it was an “extremely novel idea” it was “probably an inappropriate one”.

“I’m a bit staggered about it. While I’m always delighted to see the horizons of older people widened, I’m not sure that includes pole dancing.”

Izzy Nicholls, operations and quality director for Encore Care Homes, which runs Fairmile Grange, said the performance “received overwhelming positive feedback from relatives”.

“At Fairmile Grange, relatives and residents requested more modern-style activities. Residents were given several choices of activity and specifically chose for a local pole dancing company to perform.

“Those residents that wished to be involved welcomed Pole Dance Factory which saw talented dancers showcase a display of fitness and strength to music from the 50s and 60s.

“Pole dancing is a provisionally recognised sport by the Global Association of International Sports Federation and is working towards becoming a recognised Olympic sport. This performance sport combines dance and acrobatics, requiring great physical strength and endurance.”

She said both “dementia and non-dementia residents all thoroughly enjoyed this artistic display of musicality and gymnastic ability.”

“We are proud to challenge stereotypes and will continually offer our residents the choice to experience appropriate, new and progressive activities,” she added.

Katie Henry, owner of Poole-based business Pole Dance Factory, which provided the performance, said pole dancing was “just another form of entertainment” and the care home “wanted something a bit different”.

She said there were different styles of pole dancing, but the style performed at Fairmile Grange was “gymnastic” and to music with a 1950s/60s theme.

The youngest performer was 10 years old, but Katie teaches students up to the age of 65.

She added pole dancing was a “very popular sport which gives participants confidence” and did not “discriminate against anyone”.

A Dorset County Council spokesperson said: “We have not been made aware of any concerns regarding Fairmile Grange in Christchurch.

“Were we alerted to any concerns, Dorset County Council would of course respond in line with our safeguarding policies.”