Aesthetic ways of knowing: exploring mental health nurses' experiences of delirium superimposed on dementia

Claire Anne Pryor*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: In the UK, people with delirium superimposed on dementia may be cared for by mental health nurses, however there is little in the literature about the experience of caring for people with the condition from the perspective of mental health nurses.

AIM: To illuminate the experiences of mental health nurses caring for people with delirium superimposed on dementia and to explore how mental health nurses 'know' the people they care for using 'aesthetic ways of knowing'.

METHOD: A mixed-methods design was used guided by the principles of activity theory. Participants were registered mental health nurses with experience of caring for people with delirium superimposed on dementia within a 24-hour care environment, including an NHS mental health foundation trust and care homes. Data were collected in two ways and at two different time points: first via semi-structured interviews (n=7), second via a questionnaire (n=25). Thematic analysis of the qualitative data was paired with simple descriptive statistics of the quantitative data to describe participants' experience.

FINDINGS: This article discusses one finding from the larger study, which was undertaken as part of the author's PhD, in relation to the way in which mental health nurses 'know' the people they care for. Overall, participants showed a preference for aesthetic ways of knowing, rather than the use of formal assessment tools or scores. Participants experienced caring for people with delirium superimposed on dementia by valuing the person and concentrating on their behaviours, responses and personality, thus enabling them to anticipate and/or recognise potential triggers, precipitating factors and any changes in behaviours.

CONCLUSION: The ways in which mental health nurses know the people they care for influences their care delivery. Mental health nurses' use of aesthetic ways of knowing should be recognised and valued as a way of better understanding and supporting the person with delirium superimposed on dementia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalNursing older people
Early online date1 Nov 2023
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Nov 2023

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