One of the elements of the new MacIntyre DNA is for everyone to have a voice and be listened to.
One of the ways we hear the voice of people who draw on our support is through the use of Life Stories. Life Story work can be presented in many ways depending on how someone prefers to communicate so each the person is involved in a meaningful way.
James* lives with Downs Syndrome and dementia. The team wanted learn about Life Story work to support James to live well with dementia.
James and his team gathered photos from James’ childhood to the present time. James was able to show staff, family and friends his albums which included captions (describing the place, year, names of people in the photo etc), meaning that conversations could happen with anyone who James showed his albums to, with the captions working well as a prompt.
At first the photo album worked well for James, but as time passed he would stop looking at the album and even leave the room if the album was brought out. So another approach was needed and a Life Story table was created. James’ table captured his favourite football team and things that were important to him. This worked wonders and went on to be a great tool to start conversations.
Life Story work is not just about triggering memories, it’s about collecting resources to reflect experiences that are meaningful to the people who draw on our support, ensuring people feel listened to and valued.
Ten top tips on how to create Life Story work:
- The first aspect of Life Story work is to collect and document a person’s life – include as much detail as you can.
- Talk to the person, family members, friends, work colleagues and staff of the person you are supporting to collect information.
- Collect information from existing documentation about the person – One Page Profile, Support Plan, or Baseline Health Assessment.
- If there is only limited information available about a person, don’t be put off from doing Life Story work with them. This is an opportunity to be creative!
- Focus on what you DO know and how you can preserve that information and bring it to life.
- Once you have a little knowledge about the person, think about how you might collate that – do they have lots of photos you could put into an album or make a collage photo frame?
- What about a memory book? This is a place to document the person’s life from their earliest memories to current memories and future events. You might want to include a family tree or timeline within this too.
- Is a memory box a good idea? If you have lots of physical items, and the person enjoys rummaging, why not put them into a box?
- Want something for a wall? Consider a memory board, where you collate items of interest for the person.
- Involve the person, and have fun!