‘Every picture tells a story’ – PhD; Claire Craig

Thinking back over a cup of tea

In 2007 it was estimated that within the UK approximately 486,000 older people were living in care home settings (Help the Aged 2007).  Whilst this represents a significant number we know less about the experiences of these individuals and their occupational needs than those of older people living in the community. This is in part because the population is generally much frailer and in part as a result of some of the methodological challenges of capturing their voices.

Old Photograph of young girl drawing at the dinning room table

There has been a growing recognition that many established qualitative techniques which rely completely on the ability of the individual to verbally articulate their experiences and views are not appropriate to elicit the views of vulnerable and marginalised groups. Consequently there has been a shift to explore innovative research methods including those utilising arts based media and photography (Prosser 2006)

Old photograph of river bank memory

Over the last two years, as part of a PhD with the Art and Design Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University, Claire has been involved in exploring what such arts based media offer care home staff and the individuals they work alongside.  The focus of her study is to look at how older people living in care environments might use photography to create a record of their experiences.  She hopes to explore specifically whether this media can offer individuals a vehicle through which they can identify and express their occupational needs.

I'll never forget that day, we had the most beautiful fish and chips

During the last year she has had the opportunity to work as a photographer in residence in a care home in Sheffield.  Using digital cameras, residents have been capturing aspects of their day to day lives on film, sharing their past and present and their hopes and wishes for the future.

Much has already been learned around ethical practice when using image making within research and the power of photo-elicitation as a method of data-collection.   However, on a personal level it has been an extraordinary journey of discovery and the camera has offered an extraordinary vehicle for the meeting of worlds.

Claire will use the web-site to share her ongoing work with you and to provide regular updates on progress.


Help the Aged (2007) My Home Life: Quality of Life in Care Homes: a review of the literature. Help the Aged.  London.

Prosser, J. with Schratz. D. (2006). “Photographs within the Sociological Research Process” in: D. Hamilton (Ed.) Visual Research Methods. Sage, London..

Project updates

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