Research by School of Geography and the Environment graduate Jemima Richardson-Jones (Keble College) has been Highly Commended by the Royal Geographical Society's Geographies of Health and Wellbeing Research Group as part of their 2020 Undergraduate Dissertation Prize.
Jemima's dissertation investigated the value of musical listening in residential care home settings, exploring its role in creating "spaces of wellbeing" and aiding experiences following relocation.
In Summer 2019, Jemima spent two months in a residential care home where she interviewed twelve residents and created a series of "musical auto-biographies", using pieces of music to map out significant times and places in each of the participants' lives. She also observed residents during musical-related activities in the care home.
"My research helped me to explore the significance of musical listening for the elderly, and critically examine whether Fleuret and Atkinson's model of the "spaces of wellbeing" can be applied within this context. I concluded that Fleuret and Atkinson's model does not fully capture the positive impact of musical listening within the residential care home. I therefore modified their model, and devised practical strategies for the care home to use in order to maximise the beneficial health outcomes produced through musical listening."
As a thank you to their participation in the study, each resident received a personalised CD of their "musical auto-biography", which they could listen to at leisure.
During her second year of study, Jemima took an optional module on the degree programme which explored "affective experience" and through this module became interested in how the concept of "health" within health geography has shifted over time to incorporate health as a feeling and experience, beyond merely a physical state.
"I wanted to examine how we can expose the body to positive forces that are conducive to positive and "healthy" affective experiences. Music has been frequently cited to have therapeutic qualities, particularly for those suffering from dementia. Therefore, I wanted to explore how music could be such a positive force for older adults. COVID-19 has brought to the fore how older adults, particularly those residing in residential care homes, often "fall off the map" within research, health policy, and society as a whole. Furthermore, with claims that depression in the elderly will be the next big mental health crisis, I felt motivated to address this issue within my research."
"The opportunity to embark on a dissertation project in my final year was by far the most stimulating part of my degree, as it allowed me to take ownership and explore aspects of the course I found fascinating. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my supervisors - Janet Banfield and Fiona Ferbrache - for their invaluable support and guidance. Thank you also to the residential care home - getting to know your residents and wonderful staff has been a real privilege."
Outside of her studies, Jemima continued her passion for music as a Choral Scholar in Keble College Chapel Choir and volunteered as a Peer Supporter and the JCR Female Welfare Officer at Keble College, raising awareness of mental health.