"A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and sings it back to you when you have forgotten the words."
Catharine's uses the "Best Friends" care model as the foundation for its resident's dementia care. It emphasizes caregivers learning a resident's personal life history, as they would their "Best Friends," and incorporating it into all aspects of the resident's daily life.
Before admission to Catharine's, the resident's family completes a "Life Story" form providing detailed information about their loved-one's childhood, adolescence, adult and retirement years. Specific information is gathered concerning the resident's interests/hobbies, likes/dislikes, favorite type of music, 2-3 favorite songs, etc. Taking the time to learn a person's "Life Story" and incorporating it into their daily life and activities enhances the resident's quality of life by keeping them connected to things they remember and enjoy.
Life Story Examples
The ultimate example of how utilizing a person's "Life Story" can impact their quality of life is shown by Sam who was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic while at Catharine's. During the day, he would become physically aggressive without warning or trigger, and at night the mere hint of going to bed would elicit physical stalking. As a result, he slept in a chair in the great-room. Medication was ineffective.
His "Life Story" told us that Sam loved fly fishing, so Dick (owner) had his fly rod brought to the home, and Sam cast the fly rod in the backyard three times each day. Reliving this pleasant long-term memory effectively eliminated any physical aggression during the day. Singing Sam's favorite song, "John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt" calmed Sam so that he went to bed without incident. Sam enjoyed life without the clouds of anxiety and aggression and without the side effects of medication.
Esther loved the outdoors, and for most of her adult life she walked four miles daily, every day, even in the snow. Since this was important to her, it was important to us, and staff spent over two hours walking with Esther, long after other residents had finished shorter walks. I know of no other home that considers it a high enough priority to walk a resident for over two hours.
During Chery's entire married life, she had traditionally awakened at 5:30am to make her husband a pot of coffee before he started his farm chores. She had been unable to perform this task for over eight years due to her dementia. With this knowledge, our caregivers got up daily at 5:30am and assisted her in preparing a pot of coffee. Cheryl and the staff members shared special one-on-one time together before other residents awakened, and the resident had a sense of accomplishment and self worth when she received compliments at breakfast about her "great coffee."Our Care Model Setting The Standard View Picture Gallery