“Meaningful occupation” for people living with dementia in care homes.

Katherine Strick, a PhD student at ECEHH, has written a blog to introduce her research…

The need to be occupied in a meaningful way has been acknowledged as an intrinsic part of human nature. People seek occupation and activity for a vast array of reasons, and lack of access to occupation results in people’s well-being becoming diminished. This is also true for people living with dementia. In the UK the importance of “person centred care” and “meaningful occupation” has led to care homes looking to provide opportunities for people to be involved in meaningful activities. While it is agreed that “meaningful occupation” is important for people with dementia, definitions of “meaningful occupation” are not always clear, and may not help care staff and families to understand what they could do to achieve it. The purpose of “meaningful occupation” is often ambiguous and has been found to be understood differently by people living with dementia, families, and care staff. For research this also limits how to measure whether or not something is a type of “meaningful occupation” or how effective it is.

walking in wood (003)The aim of this research project is to establish what is understood by “meaningful occupation”, and how a person’s understanding of what “meaningful occupation” is affects the daily lives of people with dementia.

The project will investigate:

  1. What is understood by “meaningful occupation” for people with dementia in care homes by residents, carers, families, friends and care home managers, owners and staff.
  2. Whether there are different models of “meaningful occupation” in these settings.
  3. What is the impact of different models of “meaningful occupation” on residents and staff.

The research is likely to involve:

  • Interviews with care home staff about the aspects of meaningful occupation that they recognise and value
  • Observations, possibly using Dementia Care Mapping in care homes in order to understand how this happens in practice.

The study will be looking for care homes who would like to be involved in the research in spring and summer of 2019.

If you would like more information contact Katherine Strick



  1. […] meaningful occupation for people with dementia living in care homes (Kat Strick) […]

  2. This will be a fascinating study and we await the findings eagerly. As we are already aware of exposure to the natural environment and social and cultural stimulation have a positive impact on the development and progression of dementia. This could in the long term improve the likelihood that service users can remain in their own homes for longer, with appropriate home care. It certainly has the potential to improve the diversity and benefits of care across the board.

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