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Looking Back At Year 1 of Dementia Care Mapping (DCM)

Thu 18 July 2019
Part of: In Mature Company

One year ago, we began our Dementia Care Mapping journey, completing a week of training at the University of Bradford. DCM is a research tool that involves observing people living with dementia and coding their behaviours, mood and engagement in order to assess their health and wellbeing. After becoming certified Mappers, we started our research on In Mature Company, a three year project exploring the impact of dance on reducing loneliness for care home residents living with dementia.

During the first year, we mapped in two care homes in Leeds: The Grove in Pudsey and Halcyon Court in Hyde Park. We conducted a total of 31 maps across the two homes with 25 residents being observed.

There are 23 alphabetised behaviour codes representing what a person is doing. We found that 60% of the time, residents displayed two of these behaviour codes: ‘Articulation’ (communicating with another person verbally or non-verbally) and ‘Expression’ (creative activity). These behaviour categories have a high potential for wellbeing and are not observed in day-to-day life in the care home.

Year 1 of In Mature Company focused on the use of touch within dance sessions to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. We identified that touch occurred most frequently within 1:1 interactions between artists and residents. For example one of the dance artists would cup a resident’s hand to welcome them to the session or place their palm against the resident’s palm in a mirroring exercise. These touch moments were effective in building relationships and communicating non-verbally, thus increasing the resident’s engagement and mood throughout the session.
We found it particularly enriching when the artists gave ‘agency’ to the residents during the creative sessions. For example, we observed the artists asking one resident to help in the session by encouraging another resident to get up and sway to the music. This ‘agency’ empowered the residents to discover their own ability and skills and feel valued in the sessions. We observed that residents who were given ‘agency’ experienced the highest level of wellbeing possible.

We’re about to embark on our second year of Dementia Care Mapping in two new care homes. We’re very much looking forward to developing our research and working with the care staff and residents. Here’s to another successful year!

Lauren Clarke & Lily Craig
Dementia Care Mappers™

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