I’ve been beating the drum for a while now.  I still believe that every person has a story to tell, and I still believe it is a win-win-win situation for that story to be told.  

Motivations through the years in senior living and healthcare have changed. Now that we have entered a new decade, I see the primary drivers of storytelling in senior living and healthcare to be, in this order:

  1. Knowing the resident, to individualize care and to increase engagement / quality — to gain a holistic view of the person beyond his or her physical needs.
  2. Meeting the high expectations of family members who want your staff members to deeply know their loved ones.
  3. Affecting residents’ lives positively, at advanced age, when they share their life experiences.

Residents have lived through a fascinating time in history. It’s incredible to go from farm life to modern amenities, from early airplanes to the moon landing, from party lines to smartphones! An organized storytelling process with templates of questions gives older adults a wealth of experiences and memories to share with children and grandchildren.

Family members and other loved ones are so appreciative to have this history recorded for all time. If it is not recorded, it could be lost or forgotten. Your community has the opportunity and the honor to help people create a real and lasting legacy.   

Staff members, family members and volunteers never fail to gain extraordinary benefits from listening and truly absorbing a resident’s wealth of experience, wisdom and advice. Numerous studies have shown for years that there are powerful benefits to reminiscence therapy, and new studies of LifeBio’s work reinforce these outcomes to be true.

Increased happiness, increased satisfaction with life (increasing someone’s will to live) and the lowering of depression result from reminders of loving family relationships, challenges overcome, accomplishments and sweet memories from the past. Operations directors, restorative nursing professionals (PDPM is here in skilled nursing, and cognitive stimulation matters across all senior living and care sectors), recreation therapists, life enrichment / activity directors, wellness directors, executive directors or administrators see storytelling in healthcare as necessary and valuable.

When people cannot share their stories themselves due to Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, then their closest or most involved family member can and will do a great job of summarizing their loved one’s accomplishments, likes and dislikes, and personal comforts. Phone interviews or online access to HIPAA-compliant www.lifebio.com make that happen. If asked, family will support your community’s efforts.

Knowing someone’s story opens a door to new opportunities to be informed and to personalize care. This, in turn, makes it easier for certified nursing assistants or direct care workers to be less stressed, more comfortable and better connected to residents. They see value in knowing more, and it makes their time on the job easier. Building relationships is difficult, but the story paves the way to over-the-top quality.

Are you ready? Consider how to tap into the power of the personal story. I believe it is the secret to true excellence. Join me in beating the drum!

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