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Care home staff must connect with residents


Caroline Baker

Barchester’s Director of Dementia Care

Caroline Baker, Barchester’s Director of Dementia Care, believes that getting to know residents is key to great dementia care.

“On a recent care home visit, I was introduced to a gentleman living with dementia, who I was told did not like speaking to new people. Yet, because I had read about his life beforehand and discovered we had a lot in common – we had both taught, visited America and shared a love of books, for example – I was able to have a very lively and enjoyable conversation with him.

Feeling connected to the people around us is essential for our wellbeing at any age.

“When caring for people living with dementia, who may struggle to express their thoughts and feelings, gathering details about a person’s past, present and future goals – known as ‘life story work’ – is key to building and maintaining these connections.

Care home staff

“Care home providers have a responsibility to support their staff to find out what matters to each individual, document life stories and understand how to use this knowledge. Often this is done through enhanced training or by introducing activities that promote reminiscence.

It includes anything from work history, religious beliefs and favourite smells, to if they enjoy shopping.

“At Barchester, our dementia care experts have developed a board game and booklet called ‘Getting to know me’ to help staff collate information, which can include anything from work history and religious beliefs to favourite smells or whether or not they enjoy shopping. Staff use details noted in the booklet to help tailor the services they deliver, or as a reminiscence aid.

“I’d encourage anyone looking into care options for a relative to write down their life story, gathering together photos and noting their preferences, routines and areas of interest. Providing care home staff with these details makes a huge difference to how quickly they can build connections and get to know the things that will make your loved one smile.”

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