Woodlands therapy: an ethnographic analysis of a small-group therapeutic activity for people with moderate or severe dementia
This paper reports on an analysis of Woodlands therapy (WT), a sensory-motor therapeutic activity that aims to encourage interaction with people with moderate or severe dementia. The aims of the study were to examine: the responses of patients to the sensory experiences and play-based activities that make up a WT session; the factors that influenced their responses; and the verbal interventions employed by the staff who facilitated WT sessions. Methods derived from ethnography were used. The data comprised videotapes of five WT sessions, notes of other sessions, and discussions with staff involved with the approach. Thematic groups of patients’ responses were formulated. WT mainly appears to engender the responses of attention, participation and comment. Factors that influence patients’ responses are discussed. The findings indicate that staff facilitation strategies strongly influence patients’ responses to WT. Verbal interventions made by staff are grouped in terms of their relative helpfulness for promoting positive responses to WT. Suggestions for practice are made for professional carers undertaking sensory-motor therapeutic activities for people with dementia.