Research reveals that life story work can be a safe and effective intervention to maximize function and quality of life by managing stress-related expressions and minimizing the complications and functional decline of aging. A systematic review of research literature suggests that using a life review or life story process offers psychosocial benefits for people in need of nursing care.
- Enhanced well-being
- Reduction in disorientation
- Reduction in anxiety
- Improved memory
- Improved cognitive function
- Improved mood
- Improved self-esteem
- Improved social interaction
Life story work improves quality measure indicators such as depression, reduced incidents of uncontrolled expressions, wandering, exit seeking, falls and improved patient and family satisfaction surveys.
The communication used in life story work is foundational in caring for individuals as it helps them make sense of their identity. Family members experienced great relief from observing staff purposefully using the familiarity of their relatives’ lives to guide their interactions and care. Those in need of care were perceived by staff and family to respond as if they were known to them as friends or family and not as someone with medical issues. These interactions improved relationships and enhanced the quality of person-centered care.
Most importantly, outcomes from using life story work proved that the patient, families, friends, practitioners, care staff and health care organizations benefited from a humanizing, holistic understanding of the patient.
A life story provides a quick visual reference for new caregivers to discover likes and needs of the person, promotes and supports mental stimulation and positive memories leading to meaningful conversations about the past and encourages social interaction between the person, caregivers and families caring for the person.