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Durham University

Department of Geography

Staff Profile

Publication details

Tan, M.K.B. & Atkinson, S. Multiplicity and Encounters of Cultures of Care in Advanced Ageing. In: Atkinson, S. & Hunt, R. Geohumanities and Health. Cham: Springer; 2019:241-259.

Author(s) from Durham


The demographic of an ageing population in many countries is increasing the numbers of elderly who are resident in care homes especially in parts of South East Asia. The investments made into care-related activities in residential homes for the elderly largely reflect a medical approach in which priority is given to physical care through bodily maintenance and limited physical exercise, and only limited resources are allocated to other intellectual or imaginative engagements. The study introduces a very different culture of caring practice into a Singaporean nursing home through an arts-based programme in which the medical benefits are secondary to an assertion that the imagination, creativity and self-expression should be intrinsic to how we conceive of human thriving, emancipation and vitality. This difference of purpose draws our attention to the specific practice of the arts practitioner in how they care for and manage the activities, the space and the atmosphere of the arts sessions in the nursing home. In contrast to the dominant containment culture of care of the nursing home, we introduce the notion of the caring artist to capture this culture of careful practice that is attentive to the participants’ own choices, supportive to the actions they wish to engage and reflexive of their own practice.