Wandering the Wards

Published November 2020 as part of the Routledge Studies in Health and Medical Anthropology series, Wandering the wards and is an open access publication available free to download via Taylor and Francis and the Amazon Kindle store.

The book was shortlisted for the Foundation for the Sociology of Health and Illness (FSHI) International Book Prize 2021, with over 10,000 downloads to date, the book has received favourable reviews with one recent book review describing it as “a starkly beautiful book … and one that everyone should read.”

This ethnography provides a detailed and unflinching examination of everyday life within the contemporary hospital. It reveals the powerful 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 hospital wards across England and Wales, supported by the National Institute for Health Research, Katie Featherstone and Andy Northcott wander these wards to offer a major new addition to the tradition of hospital ethnography, exploring the significant continuities of the hospital ward, and the endurance of the rules and timetables that organise care within them.

Featherstone and Northcott explore the realities of routine care at the bedside to uncover everyday cultures of care. They follow people living with dementia through their admission, shadowing nurses, healthcare staff, and ward teams as they interact with them during and across shifts. They provide an urgent and detailed analysis of the organisation and delivery of routine care, and everyday interactions at the bedside, that reveal the powerful continuities and durability of ward cultures of care, and their contemporary impacts on people living with dementia. Featherstone and Northcott uncover cultures of care that produce a dynamic and powerful (and sometimes incredibly swift) interaction between the patient, the institutional rules and timetables that organise bedside care, and the recognition and attribution of the diagnostic category of dementia itself

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Our latest report carried out by Professor Katie Featherstone and Dr Andy Northcott, and a wider interdisciplinary team presents the findings of our latest new ethnographic research, Understanding how to facilitate continence for people with dementia in acute hospital setting.

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