The use of life story work with people with dementia to enhance person-centred care

Int J Older People Nurs. 2010 Jun;5(2):148-58. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-3743.2010.00219.x.


Background: Person-centred care has been linked with quality of care but difficulties remain in person-centred care being implemented in care practice. This study explores the use of life story work to enhance person-centred care with people with dementia.

Aims and objectives: The study investigates how life story work is: understood and developed in practice; experienced by all participants and affects the delivery and outcomes of care.

Design and methods: The experience of older people with dementia, family carers and care staff in using life story work was explored within an NHS Health and Social Care Trust. A multiple case study design was adopted within a constructivist approach. Semi-structured interviews, observation, conversations were employed.

Findings: Life story work has the potential to: enable care staff to see the person behind the patient; allow family carers to uphold their relatives' personhood; enable the voice of the person with dementia to be heard, verbally and non-verbally; be enjoyable for all concerned and enable the person with dementia to feel proud about themselves and their lives.

Conclusion and implications for practice: Life story work has the potential to enhance person-centred care for older people with dementia and their families. Taking a practice development approach ensures that life story work can be implemented sensitively and is sustained in practice.

MeSH terms

  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Dementia / nursing*
  • Female
  • Geriatric Nursing
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Narration*
  • Patient-Centered Care*
  • Personhood