Developing objective measures of the 'self' in dementia

Read about a research project we funded about The ‘Self’ Test: Developing objective measures of the ‘self’ in dementia.

Lead Investigator: Dr Claire Surr
Institution: University of Bradford
Grant type: PhD Studentship
Duration: 3 years
Amount: £60,339

What do we already know?

It has been suggested that maintaining one’s ‘self’ and identity is a fundamental human need.

However, evidence from literature and anecdotal evidence from people who care for individuals with dementia, suggests that dementia may have an impact on the ‘self’, which could be negative. This is a problem, because a declining 'self' has a detrimental impact on people’s well being.

Increasingly, schemes designed to enhance the well-being of people with dementia through care or activities are being developed. Current examples of this are using people’s life history as a basis for care planning, and involving people in activities which involve reminiscing about the past.

An issue has arisen with previous work, which has looked at finding ways of enhancing the well-being of people with dementia. The difficulty is assessing whether it is the introduction of new specific activities, or the social interaction accompanying the activity that is having a positive effect.

What does this project involve?

This project aims to develop an objective measuring tool that is capable of measuring the ‘self’ and the extent of any changes in the 'self', which can be used to asses the effectiveness of interventions, designed to improve well being in dementia patients.

A pilot study will be conducted, where interview and observation-based measures of the ‘self’ will be tested on people with dementia to see whether the tasks are a good measurement of ‘self’. The tests will then be reviewed by researchers and practitioners and the four best measures will be used in a further pilot with 18 people with dementia.

The effectiveness of these four measures will be evaluated by asking the patients to complete them before and after they are involved in schemes, designed to improve well being, ‘self’, or person-centered care.

How will this benefit people with dementia?

This tool will allow the benefits of specific care interventions to be identified. This will mean that the delivery of high quality person-centered care will be possible and will thus improve the well-being of people with dementia.

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