DOI: 10.1177/14713012231220461 ISSN: 1471-3012

‘A lot of people think it’s just a Mickey Mouse role’: Role ambiguity among dementia support workers within secondary care and community hospital settings

Louise Margaret Prendergast, Ceryl Teleri Davies, Tracey Williamson
  • General Social Sciences
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Medicine

Purpose: Dementia support workers (DSWs) are employed to improve the hospital care for patients living with dementia. An evaluation sought to understand the perspectives and experiences of DSWs and related healthcare practitioners within one health board, to identify any role ambiguity and inform future role development.

Design/methodology/approach: Framework analysis was used to synthesise data from semi-structured interviews and focus groups with dementia support workers, and a wider group of related healthcare practitioners.

Findings: Thirteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with DSWs. Two focus groups were held with DSWs ( n = 2 and 4) and two with associated healthcare practitioners ( n = 3 and 5). Participants described inconsistencies in the understanding and delivery of the DSW role. Role ambiguity was identified as a key theme.

Originality/value: This paper offers insight into challenges experienced by DSWs and addresses factors that could help improve and support the DSW role, and potentially the experience of other staff, and patients/people living with dementia. Overall, this evaluation highlights both the value of the DSW role in supporting the needs of patients/people living with dementia and the potential for person-centred activities to be used as therapeutic interventions.

More from our Archive