Ageing and Society

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Ageing and Society (2010), 30:103-124 Cambridge University Press
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2009


Recognising and supporting self in dementia: a new way to facilitate a person-centred approach to dementia care


a1 Dementia Services Development Centre, University of Stirling, Stirling, UK.
Article author query
kelly f [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]


This paper reports findings from a three-year study which integrated Kitwood's (1997) person-centred and Sabat's (2001) selfhood approaches in the design, fieldwork and analysis of a multi-method observational study that explored the social worlds of 14 people with dementia in continuing-care. The types of interactions that participants experienced in everyday ward life and during creative sessions were identified by observing, video-recording and engaging with them and by Dementia Care Mapping. The participants' responses to such interactions in terms of their well- or ill-being and expressions of self were identified and documented. The findings indicate that in the wards, staff interactions were often limited and sometimes abusive and that participants experienced ill-being, whereas during creative sessions, interactions were generally facilitatory and celebratory with the participants experiencing wellbeing. By developing the selfhood approach and integrating it with the person-centred approach, I argue that recognising and supporting selfhood (or not) during interactions can lead to qualitatively different staff behaviours, with consequences for the well- or ill-being of people with dementia. There is scope for incorporating this developed selfhood framework into staff training, for it has the potential to transform practice and the experiences of people with dementia in receipt of care.

(Accepted March 03 2009)

(Online publication August 14 2009)

Key Words:dementia; person-centred/selfhood approach; well/ill-being; long-term care


c1 Address for correspondence: Fiona Kelly, Dementia Services Development Centre, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, UK. E-mail: