Interactive Textiles for Wellbeing within Dementia Friendly Communities

  • Lucy Robertson

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


With over 850,000 living with dementia in the UK, it has never been more important to provide meaningful experiences and objects to support the wellbeing of those living with dementia and their communities. Previous studies have investigated the use of interactive textiles and their positive effect on wellbeing. However, there is still an opportunity for this to be explored further through the use and making of interactive textiles within Dementia Friendly Communities (DFCs). There is an urgent need for playful, personalised, interactive, comforting and tactile solutions to help those living with dementia live positively. Using Research through Design (RtD) and a person-centred approach, this thesis explores the making and use of interactive textiles for wellbeing. In Study 1, this is explored with the general public through interactive textile workshops. Studies 2 and 3 build on the learnings from Study 1 with DFCs in Scotland. Working closely with these communities, personalised interactive textile workshops and experiences were designed and facilitated. Quantitative data was gathered using the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS). Qualitative data was collected using unstructured interviews and analysed using a hybrid thematic analysis method within Seligman’s (2011) ‘Wellbeing Theory’PERMA framework: positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment. This thesis presents ways of improving wellbeing within DFC using playful, personalised, interactive, comforting and tactile solutions. Building on previous studies, this research emphasised the importance of a person-centred approach which builds trust, relationships and respect between researcher and participant within DFCs. The quantitative and qualitative data collected during the workshops and experiences show a positive effect on wellbeing. Positive emotion, engagement, (positive) relationships, meaning and accomplishment, were present during and because of interactive textile workshops activities. The data shows that the use and making of interactive textiles can increase wellbeing, enabling social connections, celebrating creativity, and fostering new relationships and experiences for those living with dementia and their communities. This thesis presents one way of helping those living with dementia, their families and their carers to live full and positive lives.
Date of Award2021
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorChris Lim (Supervisor) & Wendy Moncur (Supervisor)


  • Dementia
  • Design
  • Textile Design
  • Interactive Textiles
  • Research through Design

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