Informal social interaction among residents with dementia in special care units: Exploring the role of the physical and social environments
AbstractDespite a continued recognition of the importance of relational aspects of quality of life for people with dementia, little research has examined environmental influences on informal social interaction in dementia care settings. The purpose of this ethnographic study was to identify and explore key elements of the physical and social environments that act as facilitators or barriers for social interaction among people with dementia living in special care units. We conducted in-depth interviews with staff members and completed a series of resident observations. Findings suggest that social factors such as staff work roles and resident group size, and physical factors such as a non-institutional character, the nursing station location, and adequate seating and sightlines are influential for prompting or supporting informal social interactions. Design recommendations are provided with the intent to create physical environments that foster informal social interactions among people in dementia care environments.