Supporting identity and relationships amongst people with dementia through the use of technology: a qualitative interview study
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionInternational Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being. 2021, 16 (1), 1-26. 10.1080/17482631.2021.1920349
Meaningful activities in dementia care can promote the co-construction of narrative identity in caregiving relationships, helping to preserve the sense of self in people with dementia. Purpose: Informed by symbolic interactionism and Deweyan transactionalism, the aim of this study was to develop a transactional model of how narrative identity and relationships are promoted through the use of a new technological solution, SENSE-GARDEN, that uses digital technologies and multisensory stimuli to facilitate individualized, meaningful activities. Method: We conducted a qualitative interview study to explore the experiences of people with moderate to advanced dementia and their caregivers in Norway and Portugal. After using SENSE-GARDEN for 12–16 weeks, 20 participants (7 persons with dementia and 13 caregivers) were interviewed. The interviews were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis. Results: Three themes were generated: openness, learning, and connection. Findings suggest that SENSE-GARDEN can stimulate emotional experiences, preserve narrative identity, and foster interpersonal relationships. These findings are illustrated through a transactional model. Conclusion: This study highlights the complex multitude of factors affecting person-environment interactions in which narrative identity and relationships are constructed. To better understand these factors, future work should adopt a holistic approach to studying new methods of creating meaningful activities in dementia care.