Keller Gr NeuM. Sc. Public Health, BSc. Physiotherapy, Christine Keller
Network Aging Research

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69115 Heidelberg

Phone: +49 (0)6221 54 8139

Fellows: Prof. Dr. Ronald Hitzler, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Andreas Kruse


Forms of interaction and communication with people with dementia – a video based ethnographical reconstruction of Integrative Validation by Nicole Richard

The phenomenon dementia is characterized by a multitude of neurological and socio-psychological changes. Interacting with people whose behaviour is changing because of the progressive nature of the disease in such a way that it is perceived as disturbing or even hazardous, can be one of the most difficult tasks in caregiving. It might even seem impossible to the people that spend their daily life dealing with those who are directly affected. The problem is further exacerbated by severely impaired verbal skills (both understanding and expression), which interfere with the success of communication to the extend where no communication and understanding takes place at all.

To alleviate the strain of those affected directly and those tasked with interacting with them, especially people working professionally in caregiving, the 'Bundesministerium für Gesundheit' (German Ministry of Health) has published a list of seven guideline recommendations. One of these recommendations is Validation. Integrative Validation by Nichole Richard (IVA) is considered the most beneficent form of Validation in dealing with people with dementia. It helped Validation as an approach to become a 'pillar of healthcare for people with dementia' (BMG – Bundesministerium für Gesundheit 2006: 92). Even though the IVA, being ministerial approved, is taught and implemented in practice nation-wide, and is an important part of healthcare trainings as an innovative approach, the concept was neither scientifically evaluated nor were its theoretical foundations ever coherently expounded. Being labelled as 'lacking a clear description' (BMG – Bundesministerium für Gesundheit 2006: 89) in the guideline recommendations, no scientific papers have yet been published on the Integrative Validation Approach.

Non-drug interventions are a key aspect in dealing with people with dementia. This includes the IVA approach whose founder Nichole Richard was conceptually devoted to a successful interaction and communication with people with dementia. My – ethnographic – dissertation project utilises the Richard’s training material to analyse her concept as well as her teaching techniques. The data was collected with non-standardized, explorative methods and contains audio and video records gathered during her training sessions as well as protocols from participatory observation. The practices and methods that Nicole Richard uses to teach are being reconstructed applying different methods from hermeneutic sociology (Soeffner/Hitzler 1994: 105 f.) based on the premise that people act based on their knowledge, and that they are generating knowledge while acting (Hitzler 2007: 3).

One particular focus in exploring the IVA-concept is on the relevance of the IVA- method and the IVA-mind or attitude and how Nicole Richard conveys these to the course participants. By generalising, this could lead to an extrapolation of the fundamental factors for a successful communication with people with dementia, how those can be taught and which aspects of teaching are of importance when dealing with people on borders of the social world (especially with deficient communication skills).

Starting from there it may be possible to draw conclusions concerning the interaction with other social figures with whom we are unable to communicate in a familiar way concerning the significance of ascriptions and definitions relating to them and the appropriateness of techniques and mind-sets and attitudes chosen when dealing with them.


Research Interests

  • Dementia (communication, nursing, training of nursing concepts)

  • Methods of explorative-interpretative research in sociology ('Lebensweltanalyse', ethnographic methods, videography)

  • Properties of and training in non-drug treatments



  • Keller, Christine (2015): Freundschaftliche Forschung? Annäherung und Distanzierung beim Betreiben von Ethnographie. In: Ronald Hitzler und Miriam Gothe (Hrsg.): Ethnographische Erkundungen. Methodische Aspekte aktueller Forschungsprojekte. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, S. 255-273.

  • Beer, Thomas; Keller, Christine (2012): „Hallo, hallo, wo bin ich?“ Emotionsorientierte Kommunikationsansätze im Umgang mit Menschen mit Demenz. In: Norbert Schröer, Volker Hinnenkamp, Simone Kreher und Angelika Poferl (Hrsg.): Lebenswelt und Ethnographie. Essen: Oldib-Verlag, S. 345-354.

  • Kreher, Simone; Marr, Eva; Keller, Christine (2010): Einen Porsche Cayenne mit Wohnanhänger fahren, eine eigene Katze haben dürfen oder bei einer Freundin übernachten? Wie Kinder ihre Vorstellungen von einem „guten Leben“ heute zum Ausdruck bringen. Forum Gemeindepsychologie S. 21.

  • Krauß, Christine (2007): Physiotherapie in der Palliativmedizin – Palliativmedizin in der Physiotherapie (Teil 3). In: Zeitschrift für Physiotherapie (01), S. 40-53.

  • Krauß, Christine (2006): Physiotherapie in der Palliativmedizin – Palliativmedizin in der Physiotherapie (Teil 2). In: Zeitschrift für Physiotherapie (12), S. 1370-1378.

  • Krauß, Christine (2006): Physiotherapie in der Palliativmedizin – Palliativmedizin in der Physiotherapie (Teil 1). Zeitschrift für Physiotherapie (11), S. 1230-1240.


2001-2004 Staatsexamen zur Physiotherapeutin an der Schule für Physiotherapie Göttingen
2004-2009 Arbeit als Physiotherapeutin in Fulda, Schwetzingen, Reilingen und Altlußheim
2004-2006 Bachelor of Science „Physiotherapy“ an der HAWK Hochschule Hildesheim/ Holzminden/Göttingen
2005 Studienaufenthalt an der Hawai`i Pacific University. Studienschwerpunkte: Medical Anthropology, On Death and Dying
2008-2010 Master of Science in Public Health an der Hochschule Fulda  
2010-2014 Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin im Projekt EMOTi-KOMM – Wirkungsanalyse emotionsorientierter Kommunikationsansätze in der Betreuung von Menschen mit Demenz in institutionellen Pflegesituationen, Hochschule Fulda
since 2012 Promotionsstudium an der Technischen Universität Dortmund bei Prof. Dr. Ronald Hitzler, Fakultät für Erziehungswissenschaft und Soziologie
since 4/2015 Member of the NAR Kolleg, Heidelberg University










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Latest Revision: 2020-04-28
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