Dorset Advocacy recently commissioned OPAAL to write a good practice guide drawing on the learning from Dorset Advocacy’s Memory Network project, which was funded by the Health and Social Care Volunteering Fund. The project had three key aims:
- To help people in the earlier stages of dementia to capture their life stories
- To train and support volunteers as life story facilitators
- To use completed life stories as a resource for ensuring person-centred care planning continues, even if the person subsequently loses capacity
Volunteers were trained to help people to capture their memories on iPads, using the TimeBox app. The benefit in using iPads was that source materials such as historic photos, songs etc. could be retrieved during memory sessions and used as triggers for discussion.
Gary Kitchen was the OPAAL consultant given the task of compiling the good practice guide. At first, the project developed much more slowly than Dorset Advocacy had anticipated. There were difficulties in recruiting and retaining volunteers, and in identifying suitable sites for memory recording to take place.
Things have developed much more quickly over the past year, however, and this has generated useful good practice data. Gary’s completed report covers the benefits of memory recording, ethical considerations, creating a framework for a memory record, and other aspects too. A key learning point is the need for further consideration of whether, and how, memory recording could be undertaken with people who have already lost the capacity to consent to creating a life story.
Although Dorset Advocacy’s Memory Network project is now completed, work on developing life stories continues through the organisation’s involvement in the local Memory Support and Advisory Service, led by Alzheimers Society. Staff and volunteers are offering advocacy and/or life story facilitation to people who have received a recent dementia diagnosis.
The OPAAL/Dorset Advocacy Guide ‘Supporting People with Memory Loss to Record their Memories and Life Stories’ by Gary Kitchen is available from firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Pochin, Dorset Advocacy