Don't leave me hanging on the telephone
Interviews with people with dementia
using the telephone
Anne Mason and Heather Wilkinson
Eliciting user perspectives is an explicit and accepted aim within health and social care practice (NHS and Community Care Act 1990; Patients Charter 1998) and within legal reforms (Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act – see Scottish Executive 2000). People with dementia represent a large number of these users. It is estimated that the number of people with dementia in the UK will have increased to 855,000 by the year 2020 (Department of Health 1997). Cultural constructs of disability and disabling values and attitudes discriminate and exclude 'disabled' people from expressing their views and experiences (Goldsmith 1996; Priestley 1999). The ability of the person with dementia to express their views has been ignored due to predominant interest in the disease process (Cotrell and Schulz 1993). Ideological shifts away from this traditional medical model of health toward a psycho-social understanding have assisted in progressing toward the recognition that people with dementia, who may well have some difficulties with cognition, have an important contribution to make toward the development of social policies and services.
The aim of the present chapter is to examine critically the feasibility of using the telephone as a method to ascertain the views of people with dementia. This will be done by drawing from a recent research project to