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The benefits of Material Citizenship

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material citizenship for dementia
Dr. Kellyn Lee, a chartered psychologist and research fellow at the University of Southampton (Ageing and Dementia) and a Brendoncare trustee, has developed Material Citizenship, a new approach to dementia care which aims to ensure people with dementia enjoy a meaningful life.

What is Material Citizenship? 

Material Citizenship focuses on functional, everyday objects as an overlooked resource to ensure people with dementia enjoy a meaningful life. It is a rights-based approach to care that supports people with dementia to continue living the lives they want to live their way, which will often include objects.

Functional objects (such as a hairdryer or mobile phone) are important to ensure people maintain their identity and have choice and control. They can support a person’s transition from home to a care home, make a new space feel more homely and increase wellbeing. 

Whilst items of necessity and comfort are important, objects such as that certain coffee cup or a vacuum cleaner can ensure a person is supported to do the things they have always done. We can learn a lot about a person by the objects they have and how they use them.  

How does Brendoncare support this?

Staff at two Brendoncare homes, Knightwood in Chandler’s Ford and Park Road in Winchester, incorporate Material Citizenship into their care plans. This helps us empower residents so they feel less anxious, more relaxed and more at home.

“Having dementia doesn’t mean you aren’t an individual capable of some decision-making and taking part in aspects of everyday life. If we can start really simply with everyday objects, the hope is that we can build a shift in approach, a culture change across the sector.” – Charlotte Gilbert, Home Manager at Brendoncare Knightwood

We consider the impact objects can have, both in terms of risk and reward. Removing items can leave people feeling frustrated or agitated but, by understanding the importance of certain objects and how having access to them can improve wellbeing, we can safely enable interactions, thereby bringing a meaningful sense of purpose to a residents day.

What are the benefits of Material Citizenship?

Brendoncare took part in a collaborative research project to pilot Material Citizenship in both Knightwood and Park Road care homes. This has now been completed with staff sharing examples of how they have enhanced the caring experience. We hope to be able to include more of our care staff team in future. 

Putting Material Citizenship into action means we’re able to give residents the best possible chance of enjoying a fulfilled life at Brendoncare. And, by supporting the use of familiar objects in a safe way, we believe it:

  • Promotes choice and control in residents’ lives
  • Enables staff to really get to know residents
  • Improves care planning
  • Includes residents in deciding how they want to live
  • Maintains identity
  • Adds value to life
  • Improves wellbeing and worth

There are lots of additional resources available about Material Citizenship, including videos which you can watch here.

Dementia Care at Brendoncare

Many Brendoncare homes offer specialist dementia care. We work alongside local GPs and other healthcare professionals too. Talk to our helpful team today on 0300 303 4866 or email