Top accolade for innovative dementia care research

13 Sep 2013 15:07:22.760


An unusually ‘theatrical’ piece of university research which used live drama to publicise its findings on the care of people with dementia has been shortlisted for a prestigious award.

Inside Out of Mind’ by Tanya Myers is a play which explores the experiences of health care assistants working in a dementia ward. It was commissioned by social care researchers as a way of bringing to life field notes from a ‘fly-on-the-wall’ investigation into the caring environment on the wards.

The project has been shortlisted in the highly-competitive ‘Research’ category of the annual Times Higher Education Awards, generally seen as the ‘Oscars’ of the higher education sector in the UK. The award recognises innovative research that has a far-reaching academic impact on its field and has caught the imagination of the public.

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Moving scenes

Leading the project, Professor of Mental Health and Social Care, Justine Schneider said:

“We are thrilled to have been shortlisted for this important award. Our study is indeed unusual and innovative as we recruited and trained researchers to work as healthcare assistants in different wards for people with dementia and behavioural problems. But their eyes were on the staff not the patients… we wanted to examine what motivates staff, what they find stressful and how they cope.

“The brilliant script by Tanya Myers captures moving and darkly comic episodes from the field notes, and many of the issues raised are recognisable to anyone who has direct involvement with people with memory loss. With the help of the University’s Lakeside Arts Centre we have staged a full run of 15 performances including eight ‘learning events’ designed for the NHS staff who were the focus of the original study: 1,109 health care assistants took part in this opportunity to reflect on the theatrical portrayal of their working lives.”

Audience reaction

Inside Out of Mind’ has already been well-received by audiences of healthcare professionals and the public. Sharon Howe, Modern Matron in Mental Health Services for Older People, said: ”It was simply moving, an excellent piece of work. It refreshed my reasons as to why I choose to work in the area of dementia. It is vital that those staff on the shop floor see this production.”

Family carer, Linda Francis, added: “It was a very powerful and emotional presentation beautifully portrayed in such a compelling and sensitive way. It touched me deeply and I have given much thought to it since … I believe [it] would be an excellent tool to enlighten a wide cross-section of society.”

A video on the Inside Out of Mind project is available here

The full study report (Schneider, J., Scales, K., Bailey, S., and Lloyd, J. (2010). Challenging Care: The Role of Healthcare Assistants in Dementia Wards carried out for the National Institute for Health Research Service Delivery Organisation programme, is available from the NIHR website.

The Times Higher Education Award winners will be announced at a gala event in London on Thursday 28 November 2013.

Story credits

More information is available from Professor Justine Schneider in the School of Sociology and Social Policy on +44 (0)115 846 7307

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