This project evaluated an education workshop focusing on Life History Work (LHW) for health professionals working alongside people living with dementia. Through the methods of focus groups and semi-structured interviews, the views and experiences of both health professionals and family members was collected.
Within my current role I work as a dementia educator for the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) in the South Island of New Zealand. In focusing upon LHW, future improvements in education can be made around this significant area of person-centred care for people living with dementia.
The LHW education enabled health professionals to reflect on their own personal life histories. In doing this they gained insight into the potential thoughts and feelings that are experienced during the gathering and use of LHW for people living with dementia and their families. With the use of LHW, people living with dementia were described as displaying indicators of well-being such as, pleasure, affection, responding to humour and expressing themselves creatively. Equally, those health professionals and family members involved, displayed helpfulness, affection and sensitivity to the needs of others.
The LHW education workshop needs to be further extended to cover larger groups of health professionals and family members. LHW education requires further acknowledgement as being an essential component of future dementia studies.
Key words: education; health professionals; dementia; life history work