Chenoweth L and Kilstoff K. International Journal of Nursing Practice 1998; 4: 175–188
Facilitating positive changes in community dementia management through participatory action research
This paper reports on a participatory action research study which arose out of the initiatives of people caring for clients attending a multicultural dementia day-care program. Through a democratic decision making process, the day-care staff and family carers consulted with clients to design, implement and evaluate a new therapy program. The researchers acted as facilitators in this process, with a view to empowering participants at each stage in the action research cycles. What started out as a negative situation for the majority of study participants, evolved to become a satisfying group process and positive outcomes resulted from the therapy program itself. For clients there was the renewal of close personal relationships with family carers, increased alertness and a reduction in some of their distressing symptoms. For the family carers, there arose an awareness of new purposes in the caring role and therefore less distress in their daily lives, for day-care staff there emerged a re-conceptualisation of purpose of dementia care programs and the benefits to be gained from community collaboration in program design. The focus of this paper is to describe the action research process, which resulted in positive outcomes for the study participants.