Life Story Network

08/03/2010

The pastime of 'scrapbooking' - making photo albums and sharing memories - is a common, everyday activity, which many people do to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. It is part of the 'remembering' practices we all engage in throughout our lives. The success of the TV programme 'Who do You Think You Are?', where celebrities trace their family history, goes to show just how interested we are in knowing who we are and where we come from. Everyone has their own story, with their own journey to make and although the journey can throw up many shocks and surprises, it is almost always rewarding.

Life story work, in the context of NHS and social care services, has been used successfully as an intervention with a wide variety of people, including children (who are Looked After), people with learning disabilities, older people, people with a diagnosis of dementia, Parkinson's disease and with individuals who have suffered a stroke. It is a means of enabling an individual to put together material, in whatever format works best for them, about their family, work and community life to affirm their identity as an individual with a biography. The practice of life story work can be invaluable in the pursuit of person centred care, thereby promoting dignity and respect and ensuring that the person is central to the care or support process and is not just seen in the context of their diagnosis or condition.

Life Story work aims to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of people by enabling them to document and share their life story in whatever means is best for them. Examples include written script, photographs, computer file, memory boxes, audio tapes or DVD. It is their story and puts them firmly in the centre. It is a vehicle for purposeful and respectful communication between the individual concerned and staff who are working with them to provide personal care and support.