Supporting personhood within dementia care: the therapeutic potential of personal photographs

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This qualitative study explored the potential of a photo-based biographical tool designed to familiarize long-term care (LTC) staff with residents’ life stories to support personhood and contribute to person-centred dementia care. Literature on personal photography, life story work, reminiscence, and social constructionist theory in relation to discourses of personhood and self informed this investigation. Data generation entailed creation of two Visual Life Stories (VLS), produced through guided conversations with residents with dementia and their families, and subsequent focus groups conducted with staff from two care facilities that assessed feasibility and therapeutic value of this tool within the LTC context. Analysis revealed that: a) visual prompts supported residents’ ability to recall and share their life stories, b) family members participation was integral to VLS production, and c) despite positive staff feedback on the value of VLS, micro-level demands and macro-level policies were perceived as barriers to implementation.

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Department of Gerontology - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)