Dr Corner of the UEA tells us how understanding Personhood and Citizenship can benefit those with Dementia

This week I received one of my favourite types of emails, Mrs M who is a daughter who we supported with a mental capacity assessment for her mother Mrs R, to assist with a Deputyship application a year ago, sent me a courtesy update on the Court application, but also on how her mother is now doing in residential care.

Mrs M advised how delighted she was to share that Mrs R had recently celebrated her 90th birthday, and how her mother ‘is still working at the care home doing the dishes, loading and unloading the dishwasher and sorting socks!’. Isn’t this exploiting a vulnerable person you might ask? Getting an older person with a significant dementia to complete chores, when most residential homes often charge upwards of £1000 per week for residents to live there.

Now let me tell you a little more about Mrs R; having devastatingly become a widow whilst her only child was still a young girl, Mrs R has always had a staunch work ethic to support her daughter and herself as a lone parent. Mrs R has always been a strong, resilient, and principled woman, who worked in kitchens throughout her career, furthermore, taking great pride in her work. And that in a nutshell is what personhood is, it’s the condition of being an individual person; the persons biography, social function, health, and neurological function.

Now citizenship is more about a person’s role, rights, and the sense of that individual in the world. Creating opportunities for purpose based on the understanding of that individuals personhood is proven to enhance well-being in those experiencing dementia. The person-centred care plan for Mrs R within her residential home is a wonderful example of how care plans can be crafted creatively by acquiring a better understanding of that individuals personhood, it order to achieve better outcomes and renewed well-being for that individual from undertaking role and purpose within the residential setting.

Dr Corner is the Course Director and Lecturer for MSc in Mental Health Nursing at the University of East Anglia, and has also formally worked in various settings as a qualified Mental Health Nurse such as inpatient care, acute care, mental health liaison in an acute general hospital, and as a Community Mental Health Nurse. One of Dr Corners research studies explored how delivering reflective training sessions on personhood and citizenship for staff members working in dementia residential homes could improve outcomes and sense of well-being for residents. This study saw Dr Corner awarded a doctoral fellowship by the National Institute of Health Research. Dr Corner also writes short stories for children to support their understanding of personhood and citizenship in an accessible format.

Dr Corner kindly agreed to record a short video for Thornton & Lee explaining for anyone who supports an individual with dementia the benefits of understanding personhood and citizenship, and practical ways that these could be implemented to increase well-being and purpose in the individual with dementia.

Please click on the link to watch Dr Corner’s informative video on YouTube discussing Personhood and Citizenship in the care of those with dementia for Thornton & Lee: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOcIohK22hc