Using PhotoVoice as a way for people with dementia to communicate

Dawn Smale and Helen Jevnikar, McCormick Dementia Services
2016 – 2017

Background

PhotoVoice is a photographic research method that involves individuals taking photographs that represent their personal perspectives.  The novelty of PhotoVoice is that every project is unique, yet there are commonalities shown through its ability to reveal life experiences and empower individuals by providing them with a voice.

At McCormick Dementia Services, a PhotoVoice pilot project was introduced for selected day program clients.  The purpose was to explore the lived experience of dementia, to provide an opportunity for participants to teach others about their lives, and to start conversations.  Participants were asked to photograph and present scenes to show how they perceive or understand themselves before dementia, with dementia, and in the future.

Findings

The client photos and their stories and meanings were shared with the social workers. The process facilitated a better understanding of the person’s perspective of dementia, and the photographs themselves helped sharpen memory and give rise to conversations.

Dissemination
Posters/Presentations
  1. Smale, D., & Jevnikar, H. (2017). Exploring an alternative therapeutic approach to empowering dementia day program clients through PhotoVoice. 18th Annual Therapeutic Recreation Ontario Conference, London, ON, May 31-June 2, 2017. (Oral presentation)
  2. Smale, D., & Jevnikar, H. (2016). Exploring an alternative therapeutic approach to empowering dementia day program clients through PhotoVoice. London Social Workers’ Geriatric Interest Group Webinar, Nov 17, 2016. (Oral presentation)
  3. Smale, D., & Jevnikar, H. (2016). Exploring an alternative therapeutic approach to empowering dementia day program clients through PhotoVoice. Brain Health Network Webinar, Sept 15, 2016. (Oral presentation)

If you have any questions, please contact Steve Crawford, CEO, McCormick Care Group, at 519-432-2648 ext. 2319, or by e-mail at scrawford@mccormickcare.ca