Life stories and biography: a means of connecting family and staff to people with dementia
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Aims. This article assesses the Family Biography Workshop (FBW) designed to support family and staff to co-construct the history of the person with dementia in residential care. Background. Family-staff conflict in residential dementia care is a major stressor that disturbs effective relationships and contributes to stress. Biographical research has been found to improve communication and promote family-staff relations. Few studies focus on family biography as an approach that promotes positive relations that translate into inclusive care interactions. Design. A qualitative descriptive approach was used to assess the influence of participation in the FBW and the impact of developing biographical knowledge on family-staff caregiver attitudes, perceptions of roles, conflict and the subsequent management of stress using participatory care practices. Methods. The FBW process involved seven family caregivers, seven staff and one researcher working collaboratively through a series of six weekly two-hour sessions, designed to help them build a biography of the person with dementia. Results. For family caregivers, reviving memories of their relatives as 'whole' persons enabled some to 'stand outside' and see beyond the disease-saturated context. For staff, 'opening possibilities' of 'seeing' the resident within the family context empowered them to engage in genuine participatory practices. Residents benefited from being connected as staffs' 'know how' in initiating and engaging developed. Conclusion. Future research will examine the effects of the FBW on the dynamics of family-staff roles and relationships. This research aims to reduce stress from role inadequacy, task burden, poor relationships and improve staff attitudes towards family participation. Relevance to clinical practice. This study substantiated the FBW by revealing understanding of the meaning of biography work for family and relatives in care; providing effective support that empowered staff to confidently relate; and fostering engagement in inclusive care practices that encouraged residents' initiatives.
Journal of Clinical Nursing
© 2010 Wiley-Blackwell Publishing. This is the author-manuscript version of the paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.The definitive version is available at www.interscience.wiley.com
Nursing not elsewhere classified