Exploring the significance of clothing to people with dementia using sensory ethnography

Fleetwood-Smith, Rebecka (2020) Exploring the significance of clothing to people with dementia using sensory ethnography. Doctoral thesis, University of West London.

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The World Health Organisation has identified the challenge of caring for those with dementia to be made a public health priority. Increasingly, literature from dementia care advocates creative approaches to aid those with dementia to live well. Greater importance is being placed on the significance of the physical and social aspects of dementia care environments. Whilst material and textile objects are used within the care of people with dementia, limited research has explored clothing within dementia care settings. Therefore, the research aims were to investigate the relationship between people with dementia and their clothing, by exploring the embodied and sensorial experience of clothing during wear to examine the potential of clothing in the care of people with dementia. The research design was shaped by my background in fashion textile design and psychology, and employed a sensory ethnographic (SE) approach. SE draws on traditional ethnographic methods, such as observation and interviews, whilst employing less conventional techniques which involve, for example, designing an activity for (or with) participants. This project employed the use of sensory, creative and embodied research methods, designed to support people with dementia to participate as fully as possible in the research. Three iterative, interlinked cycles of study were carried out. CYCLE 1 consisted of multisensory research encounters, working with people with dementia and care home staff to explore clothing during wear. CYCLE 2 involved working with creative practitioners to translate thematic findings from the first cycle of study into a series of materials, objects and images. CYCLE 3 repurposed object handling sessions (typically used as a psychosocial intervention within dementia care) as a creative, sensory research method, working with people with dementia to explore their responses to the specific materials, objects and images. The analytic process used varied according to each cycle of study, resulting in the use of reflexive thematic analysis (CYCLE 1), thematic analysis (CYCLE 2) and audio-visual analysis (CYCLE 3). Findings demonstrate that clothing is important to people with dementia at a number of levels. Clothing supports selfhood, enhances spatial and temporal orientation, improves feelings of comfort, belongingness, security and privacy. The aesthetic and sensorial properties of clothing (and textiles) are important to people with dementia. For example, wearing the ‘right’ items of clothing can be empowering, whilst wearing the ‘wrong’ items of clothing can act as a barrier. Attending to such preferences can support relational approaches to care and the design and use of clothing and textiles within care homes. This research identifies the expressive capacity that clothing and textiles afford people with dementia, and demonstrates how this can inform relational approaches to care and activities provision within care homes. Not only do findings contribute multifaceted knowledge regarding the importance of clothing to people with dementia, they also demonstrate the significance of using novel sensory, creative embodied research methods when working with people with dementia.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Medicine and health > Clinical medicine > Dementia
Fashion and textiles
Depositing User: Rebecka Fleetwood-Smith
Date Deposited: 18 Mar 2021 16:07
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 07:15
URI: https://repository.uwl.ac.uk/id/eprint/7758


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