BSA in London this week 3-5 April

2 members of our dementia & social gerontology research team are off to the BSA annual conference in London. Dr Richard Ward and Dr Fiona Kelly are presenting at the open stream on Wednesday 3rd April 12-1.30pm

Ageing, Body & Society

Ward, R., Campbell, S. University of Stirling

Unspeakable Practices in Unimaginable Places: Exploring the Care-Based Hair Salon

The Hair and Care project is an ethnographic investigation into the provision of hairdressing services to people with dementia in different types of care setting. In the absence of existing research on this topic our aim has been to capture in detail the processes and practices that characterise these environments and the meanings attached to them by those who use and work in them. We have found that care-based salons are often temporarily staged ‘events’ that rely for their character and qualities upon the contributions of participants as much as the material spaces and objects of which they are comprised. Hairdressing itself is a distinctive form of body work that is set apart from the routines and practices of dementia care, not least in how workers understand and approach the bodies of those they work upon. Indeed, hairdressing rarely figures in the imaginary of dementia care – where bodies are seen to be failing and in decline. This may explain why hairdressers are positioned at the margins of caring environments and rarely thought of as contributing to the therapeutic objectives of health and social care. Yet, our research shows that the salon is a meaningful and valued gendered space, carved out against the medicalised routines of care. In this paper we explore the question of what makes a salon a salon. Drawing on an understanding of place as a ‗spatio-temporal event‘ we consider the broader implications of the salon-event to an on-going agenda to enhance and transform the landscape of dementia care.

Kelly, F. University of Stirling

Embodiment and Dementia: Appearance, Identity and Bodywork

Increasing numbers of frail people with dementia are being cared for in care homes and hospitals. Their frailty along with cognitive impairment makes them more vulnerable to neglectful or abusive practices than people who are stronger and without cognitive impairment and is counter to health and social care aspirations of a human rights-based approach to practice. This paper examines bodywork in dementia care, particularly bodywork arising from frailty and loss of function, that might be distasteful to careworkers and it explores some of the underlying factors that contribute to neglectful or abusive bodywork practices in dementia care. Using research data and analysis of video footage of abusive practices it explores the extent to which careworkers’ non-recognition of the selfhood of those in their care influenced their practice and it illustrates the repercussions of this on the well-being of those in receipt of such practices. This paper suggests that sometimes a person-centred approach, in which patients’ or residents’ preferences, biographies and wishes are known by careworkers, might just not be possible in settings where staff are unfamiliar with their patients and, due to cognitive impairment, their patients are unable to state these. Instead, it suggests taking a reflective approach to empathically recognise commonalities of selfhood: aspects of our identity that we share in common, to facilitate recognition of the person with dementia as more than a frail body to be done to and to promote practice that dignifies both recipient and careworker.