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Engagement and social interaction in dementia care settings. A call for occupational and social justice

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As full citizens, people with dementia are entitled to engage in social and occupational activities in residential care settings. Limitation or deprivation of choice and experience of valued occupations has been described elsewhere as occupational injustice. This research frames the unmet needs of people with dementia for occupation and social interaction, as issues of human rights and citizenship. It identifies a gap in current measurement tools of engagement in residential settings and in response, presents the Assessment Tool for Occupational and Social Engagement (ATOSE) as an objective measure of engagement. It examines results from a study of five residential care settings in Ireland using the ATOSE which included 73 residents with dementia and/or enduring mental health diagnoses. Residents spent on average, 38% of their time engaged and 62% of their time not engaged while in their communal sitting rooms. The ATOSE observations supported the rights of residents as citizens to have low levels of engagement addressed. A critical gerontology lens is employed to discuss concepts of citizenship, occupational justice, and social justice in the context of this research project.
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Keywords: ATOSE; citizenship and rights; dementia care; long‐term care; observational methods; occupational engagement; occupational justice; residential care; social interaction; social justice

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2019

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