Abstract

Objective. The purpose of this study was to gain understanding of the staff experience of occupation in the context of day care for persons with dementia.

Method. Narratives of especially satisfying and dissatisfying experiences of care were elicited from a random state-wide sample of day-care staff members. Qualitative methods were used to analyze the phenomenological data.

Results. The core meaning of occupation derived from these data was Occupation as the Gateway to Relative Well-Being. A model of the experience of occupation for staff members is proposed that is composed of three phases: the meeting of minds, engagement in occupation, and relative well-being. The skills of the staff informants that bring about the meeting of minds, the many levels of client engagement in occupation, and the indicators of well-being for clients and for staff members are described. The three phases together constitute an occupational space—created by the staff person—and the engagement in occupation itself constitutes an occupational place within that space.

Conclusions. Bringing about indicators of well-being through occupation was a primary source of satisfaction for the day-care staff informants in this study. The model of the staff experience of occupation proposed in this study has application to all areas of occupational therapy practice.

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