Dr Jane Mullins Research assistant: health and wellbeing 14 January 2021

Jane has worked as a dementia care nurse for many years, which has included caring for people in care homes, supporting them through their diagnosis in memory clinics and their ongoing care in the community and hospital. So when she had the opportunity to undertake research for her PhD, she knew exactly what she wanted to do.

Her dementia nursing practice and research experience has led her to find ways to help people communicate with those who have dementia and often struggle to express themselves. Researching together with people living at home, who have moderate dementia and their partners, her PhD explored multisensory ways to help them communicate and reconnect, using holidays and travel as a theme. Acting as co-researchers, the couples chose the direction they wanted the research to follow and along with Jane, they created an individualised digital film using their holiday photos and matching soundscapes, brought together many objects and holiday related artefacts, maps, passports and souvenirs to explore and shared food and drink associated with holiday memories.

The results of using the senses were quite remarkable, and led to the couples leaving their day-to-day challenges caused by dementia behind, helping them become “attuned” to each other once more.  Now at Awen, Jane is developing her research further and with the help of members of the 3 Nations Dementia Working Group and colleagues, she is designing research to develop the suitcase of memories as a toolkit and app that can be used with families and aims to help those isolated at home and in care settings.

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