Life story work in practice: aiming for enduring change

Journal article citation:
Journal of Dementia Care, 18(3), May 2010, pp.20-22.

Life story work is a recognised methodology used to preserve identity, enhance communication and enrich wellbeing for older people, especially those who have dementia. This article reports on a training and development project designed to establish life story work through dementia care services in the Northern Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland. Between November 2008 and May 2009, a trust-wide project was introduced to establish life story work in all its residential and day care facilities serving people with dementia. This account describes the first phase of the project, exploring the outcomes and implications of this innovation for staff carers and their managers, as well as raising issues concerned with establishing innovatory practice. Training was undertaken by 29 staff from 15 facilities, and comprised 4 half-day training sessions provided by Reminiscence Network Northern Ireland. Over 6 months, 29 books were prepared, and in general the process was much enjoyed and participants were extremely proud of their books. This article discusses commitment from managers; the life story book template; training and practice development; feedback from staff; obstacles and distractions; participants’ responses; celebrating the project; follow up; and achieving enduring change.

Subject terms:
life story work, older people, staff, training, dementia;
Content type:
practice example
Northern Ireland
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