Exploring the Experiences of People with Early Stage Dementia through Photography and Storytelling

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsInvited talkResearch


Dr Ward used photo-elicitation, poetry and storytelling techniques with people with dementia who undertake lifelong learning at a school in Denmark. The project aimed to understand the dynamics of these methods when used with people with dementia to explore if they could support the participants to share their experiences of attending the school. Participants took their own photographs of the school and of their home lives, and these were discussed during four weekly sessions.

‘…the picture tells the story while you have experienced it. It tells the story because I’ve been there…’

This approach was found to provide people with dementia the opportunity to share their experiences, through supported engagement, offering a flexible way of supporting memory and helping people to share their stories. The participants were observed to make choices about what they wanted to photograph and subsequently what they wanted to discuss, often taking on the role of the facilitator by asking each other questions and by asking Dr Ward to share stories of her home life with the group.

Dr Ward’s research has a focus on dementia and creativity, undertaking research to explore Singing for the Brain, storytelling in palliative care and the use of drama with people with dementia. Dr Ward is also a certified TimeSlips facilitator, delivering storytelling sessions at a local hospital on the mental health and dementia wards. Alison also runs a social support group for people with dementia, who meet for a meal out.
Period22 Oct 2019
Held atUniversity of Derby, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionRegional


  • Dementia
  • Photography
  • Storytelling
  • Lifelong learning