Well crafted: a sustainable model for participatory craft-based activities at the living museum; improving wellbeing for people living with dementia

Brewster, Jill (2021) Well crafted: a sustainable model for participatory craft-based activities at the living museum; improving wellbeing for people living with dementia. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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This practice-based research explores the role of participatory handcrafting as a strategy for promoting wellbeing for people living with early-stage dementia, addressing the difficulty of maintaining meaningful roles in the community after diagnosis. The three main themes were: People; to identify the needs and challenges in designing participatory engagement workshops for a specific group of participants, Place; to understand the unique opportunities and experiences of working in an immersive heritage environment, and Practice; to use design methods to develop a new sustainable service.

The research took place in a historically immersive environment at Beamish Open-Air Museum, the immersive characteristic of the setting was a significant actor in the narrative of the research, directly informing the activities and methods employed. Drawing on existing literature combined with firsthand observations to understand the value of a new intervention at the unique setting.

The study employed participatory craft workshops combining design research with hands-on making, by engaging key stakeholders to develop new ways for museums to support local communities. A social enterprise workshop model was tested, making handmade products to sell in the museum gift shop that challenged the assumption that a diagnosis of dementia is a barrier to participation and learning new and valued skills. Whilst craft and reminiscence activities have been a long-standing part of the wellbeing offer at Beamish for people living with dementia, this has been a different kind of engagement where people helped build a community of makers and became owners of the initiative alongside the design researcher. The commercialisation of the handmade products promoted a sense of independence, increased self confidence and contributed financially to the sustainability of the activity. Beyond this, the research demonstrated the importance of design/craft practitioners and their unique contribution to museum activity and recognised that heritage organisations are well positioned to find new ways to support local artisans.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: co-design, handcrafted, heritage, community, co-create
Subjects: B900 Others in Subjects allied to Medicine
W200 Design studies
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Design
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2022 11:14
Last Modified: 29 Sep 2022 11:15
URI: https://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/50249

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