Representations of People With Dementia - Subaltern, Person, Citizen
Gilmour, Jean A
Nursing inquiry 2010 Sep; 17(3): 240-7
This study traces shifts in health professional representations of people with dementia. The concepts of subaltern, personhood and citizenship are used to draw attention to issues around visibility, voice and inclusion. Professional discourses and practices draw upon, and are shaped by historical and contemporary representations. Until recently, people with dementia were subaltern in nursing and medical discourses; marginalised and silenced. The incorporation of contemporary representations foregrounding personhood and citizenship into health professional accounts provide space for transformative styles of care. Privileging personhood centralises the person with dementia in social networks, focusing on their experiences and relationships. Respecting citizenship involves challenging discrimination and stigma: nursing from a rights-based approach necessitates listening and being responsive to the needs of the person with dementia. Incorporating contemporary representations in health professional practice requires the discarding of the historically dominant elite and authoritarian accounts of dementia still apparent in some nursing texts along with, perhaps, the historically burdened term of dementia itself.
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