1st Edition

Wandering the Wards An Ethnography of Hospital Care and its Consequences for People Living with Dementia

By Katie Featherstone, Andy Northcott Copyright 2021
    188 Pages
    by Routledge

    188 Pages
    by Routledge

    Wandering the Wards provides a detailed and unflinching ethnographic examination of life within the contemporary hospital. It reveals the institutional and ward cultures that inform the organisation and delivery of everyday care for one of the largest populations within them: people living with dementia who require urgent unscheduled hospital care.

    Drawing on five years of research embedded in acute wards in the UK, the authors follow people living with dementia through their admission, shadowing hospital staff as they interact with them during and across shifts. In a major contribution to the tradition of hospital ethnography, this book provides a valuable analysis of the organisation and delivery of routine care and everyday interactions at the bedside, which reveal the powerful continuities and durability of ward cultures of care and their impacts on people living with dementia.


    *Shortlisted for the Foundation for the Sociology of Health and Illness Book Prize 2021*

    1. Ward cultures of care;  2. Ward life;  3. Visibilities and invisibilities; 4. Recognition and attribution of dementia at the bedside;  5. Tightening of the timetables and the organisation of bedside care;  6. Bedside talk and communicating the "rules" of the ward;  7. Organisational cultures of containment, restriction and restraint;  8. Wandering the wards


    Katie Featherstone is Professor of Sociology and Medicine, and Director of the Geller Institute of Ageing and Memory within the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of West London, UK.

    Andy Northcott is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology of Medicine within the Geller Institute of Ageing and Memory at the University of West London, UK.

    "This is a starkly beautiful book (the field note passages are often harrowing) and one that everyone should read. It highlights politics of identity. It shows how identities take shape and are allocated within institutional and organisational ecologies. It reminds us that many of the taken-for-granted assumptions about difference are, at least in part, of our own social, technical, material, aesthetic, economic and political making. And it reminds us that difficult identities and attributions may be reversed if we are willing to adapt the materials, practices, resource allocations and aesthetic preferences through which we enact the realities that are our lives."

    - Gary Ansdell and Tia DeNora in Sociology of Health & Illness


    "Wandering the Wards is an emotive in-depth account of Featherstone and Northcott’s ethnographic study of hospital care for people living with dementia. [...] There is no doubt about the breadth of their work, depth of analysis and emotional impact resulting from these encounters that are informed by over 330 days of observations in eight hospitals across England and Wales. The value of their study is also in the ongoing public consultation with people who have dementia, their families and carers at all stages of the research and whose experience sadly echoes their findings. [...] I recommend all people involved in the health- and social-care of people who have dementia read this book to open up their empathy and humanity for hospital patients (people) and to become agents of change."

     - Jane M. Mullins in Dementia


    "An engaging, analytic and insightful examination of the drivers and consequences of ward practices is set out over the 188 pages. [...] This book will be a necessity for readers interested in dementia care, hospital care, or in understanding just how underlying cultures of care can impact on those caught up in their services and also practitioners. Thought-provoking notions of identity, visibility, labelling, efficiency, containment and legitimate work will all be applicable to other fields. [...] It is a riveting read offering pertinent and affecting field note excerpts throughout that cannot be overlooked if we want to equitably reframe the place of people with dementia within services."

    - Tamara Backhouse in Quality in Ageing and Older Adults