University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

How do arts practitioners engage the person with dementia living in a care home setting?

Veale, Amy (2020) How do arts practitioners engage the person with dementia living in a care home setting? PhD thesis, University of Worcester.

Amy Veale Amended Thesis 2021.pdf - Submitted Version

Download (2MB) | Preview



The arts are recognised as a form of meaningful activity that can support people with dementia to live well. While the potential benefits of arts engagement are well reported in the dementia research literature, less attention has been paid to the social processes underpinning arts activity engagement. The need to elucidate the theoretical basis of arts activities to understand how and why the arts can enable change in dementia has been noted. This study contributes to the existing evidence base by creating a theoretical framework to explain how arts practitioners engage the person with dementia in a care home setting. This theory is of potential interest to researchers, arts practitioners, and others who wish to understand and articulate how the arts can positively impact the lives of care home residents living with dementia.


A Straussian grounded theory approach was used to develop a theoretical framework of arts activity engagement. The first phase of the study focused on the development of the theory from a series of in-depth interviews. The second phase of the study involved the testing and further development of the theory based on observations and interviews related to dance therapy and poetry activities at one care home. This two-phased approach to data collection involved arts practitioners, arts mentors/trainers, artistic directors, residents living with dementia, and care staff.


The metaphor ‘scaffolding’, borrowed from the field of education, encapsulates the process by which practitioners use the arts to encourage, support, and enhance capacities for meaningful engagement and change in dementia. This metaphor constitutes the core category of the theory comprised of three subprocesses: ‘Inviting and inspiring engagement’; ‘cultivating meaningful connections’; and ‘nurturing change’. The theoretical framework further consists of a range of conditions that impact upon the process of arts engagement, as well as a range of consequences that can result from it.


The theory and core category of ‘scaffolding’ highlight how arts practitioners encourage and support residents to realise their potential for engagement and change. The theory further explains how arts activities can act as a scaffold for positive and affirming relationships in dementia, through which the autonomy, uniqueness, and value of residents can be recognised, and their personhood upheld. As an emergent theory, the framework developed in this study has limitations and would benefit from further testing.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:

A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the University’s requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy. University of Worcester, 2020.

A pdf file of this PhD thesis is available to download from this WRaP record.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: dementia, arts, engagement, care homes
Divisions: College of Health, Life and Environmental Sciences > School of Allied Health and Community
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Amy Veale
Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2021 09:46
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2021 10:11

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item
Worcester Research and Publications is powered by EPrints 3 which is developed by the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton. More information and software credits.