Researchers from the University of York have evaluated how creating a life story helps those with dementia, their family, carers and professionals.
It’s a very popular type of activity for those living with dementia, and now researchers from the Social Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of York have compiled evidence on its potential help people.
They carried out a systematic literature review, listened to first-hand accounts from people living with dementia, family carers and professionals, and spoke to people in six care home and four hospital wards.
Kate Gridley, a research fellow at York’s SPRU and the lead researcher in the study said:
‘People with dementia and their family carers played a pivotal role in identifying nine key features of good practice in life story work.
‘This includes not assuming that a person wants to do life story work, and respecting the person’s wishes about what goes into their life story and who will see it. However, these good practice approaches were not always followed.
‘The study identified some improvements in staff attitudes towards people with dementia care homes when they introduced life story work, and improvements in quality of life for some of the people with dementia, although the numbers were small.
‘The cost of delivering life story work is relatively low, and staff felt that doing life story work encouraged interactions with family, and helped staff to get to know the person with dementia.’
Life story work usually involves helping someone to record events from their past and present life, often in a book or folder, although it’s also increasingly done in an electric format, which allows people to include multimedia files such as music and video, too.
It’s thought the process of recording the life story can be a great way of helping carers develop a greater understanding of the person with dementia, helping them provide a more person-centred care plan. It’s also enjoyable for the person with dementia to look back on their life, particularly on events which they’re more likely to remember, rather than recent events from their short term memory which they may struggle to recall.
For more information on putting a life story together, click here.