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July 24, 2019

Dementia Care Mapping – In Mature Company

One year ago, Lily Craig and Lauren Clarke, completed a week of training at the University of Bradford to qualify as Dementia Care Mappers (DCM) for Yorkshire Dance’s In Mature Company project, funded by Time to Shine.

DCM is a research tool that involves observing people living with dementia at five minute intervals and coding their behaviours, mood and engagement in order to assess their health and wellbeing.

Lily explains: “after becoming certified Mappers, we started our research on In Mature Company, a three year project exploring the impact of dance on reducing loneliness for care home residents living with dementia. During the first year, we mapped in two care homes in Leeds: The Grove in Pudsey and Halcyon Court in Hyde Park. We conducted a total of 31 maps across the two homes with 25 residents being observed.”

DCM comprises 23 alphabetised codes to categorise behaviours, which have different potentials for well-being and ill-being. For example ‘N: Land of Nod’ means someone is sleeping and therefore cannot experience increased well-being. During 60% of the weekly In Mature Company dance sessions, residents displayed two behaviour codes: ‘Articulation’ (communicating with another person verbally or non-verbally) and ‘Expressive’ (Expressive or creative activity). These behaviour categories have a high potential for wellbeing and are not often observed in day-to-day life in the care home.

Year 1 of In Mature Company explored the use of touch within dance sessions to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. Lily explains: “We identified that touch moments occurred most frequently when artists interacted one-to-one with residents. For example, the dance artists would do things like cupping a resident’s hand to welcome them to the session or placing their palms against the resident’s palm to mirror movements. These touch moments were really effective in building relationships and communicating non-verbally. We found that when the artists built in these touch moments the resident’s engagement and mood increased throughout the session. We also found it was particularly enriching when the artists gave ‘agency’ to the residents. For example, we observed the artists asking one resident to help in the session by encouraging another resident to get up and sway to the music. This ‘agency’ empowered the residents making them feel valued in the session. We observed that residents who were given ‘agency’ during the sessions experienced the highest level of possible wellbeing.

We’re about to embark on our second year of Dementia Care Mapping™ in two new care homes. We’re very much looking forward to developing our research and working with the care staff and residents.’

Training Yorkshire Dance staff in Dementia Care Mapping™ has proved an invaluable resource for the In Mature Company project, giving the flexibility to be reactive and the expertise in house to interpret the mapping data and communicate this to the team. The mappers really understand the project and are in a great position to advise the team on developing the dance programme.

Lauren Clarke & Lily Craig
Dementia Care Mappers™