Development of life story guidelines for family members with cognitively impaired relatives residing in a personal care home, a practicum project

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Baxter, Catherine E.
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The literature on family caregiving suggests that family members express a strong need to share their expertise in caring for their family members with nursing home staff. Moreover, they hope the important information they provide will be used in the planning and provision of care for their relatives. While family members report a strong desire to share th ir specialized knowledge and expertise with staff, they are often unsure how to communicate this information. The purpose of this practicum project was to develop guidelines that could be used by family members, to write a life story that would communicate the specialized knowledge they possess, about their relatives with Alzheimer's Disease, to nursing home staff. In order to determine what information should be included in the life story guidelines, key informant interviews with family caregivers of cognitively impaired relatives and focus group interviews, with selected staff at a long-term care facility were carried out. Content analysis was conductedand seven categories were identified and incorporated into the guidelines. These included: Relationships, Life Experiences, Accomplishments, Personality, Philosophy, Interests, and Daily Living. Life story workshops were then conducted to introduce the life story guidelines to family members. Following the workshops, family members used the guidelines to develop a life story for his/her relative with Alzheimer's Disease. The usefulness of the guidelines was evaluated and final revisions to the guidelines were made.