Nursing Times Award Winner

Our Life Story App officially launched through our work at Whittington Health

We have officially launched the Kissing it Better My Life Story App at Cheverton Lodge Care Home in Islington with the girls from Mount Carmel School.

Over a period of weeks, pupils from a local school, supported by their teachers and care home staff, use the app, created by us and funded by the Cabinet office, to work with the residents, to create, with great sensitivity, the story of that person’s life.

Gently, and only with the full permission of the resident and their family, the young people collect memories which may include where the resident was born, went to school, their first job, marriage, and other special moments. Filled with joyous anecdotes and fun, the app not only helps the resident recall those stories and images from the past that meant so much to them, it also helps younger people to understand better the person they are working alongside. For those with dementia, who have lost much of their short term memory, the app enables them to recall their less-damaged long term memories which provides them not only with happy recollections, it also helps anchor them to what can be a very bewildering world if you have dementia. Learning about their past, through the app, also helps staff better understand those they care for, creating conversation and connections that may otherwise be missed.

Meticulously protected by a password, the students work closely with their teacher, the staff of the Care Home and the resident’s family to ensure that the information in the book accurately and sensitively reflects the life of the resident. Watching a resident’s eyes light up when the see a picture of the house where they were born, the bus that took them to school, the school canteen or the office building where they started their first job, can be so moving. Linking it to the music that they loved at the time, the films they saw at the cinema, the day trips to the coast etc., all help to trigger long-forgotten memories. Through sharing the password with those closest to that person, others, including care home staff, can pick up the story and better connect with the person they are caring for.

Using our new portal, family members, whether local or from across the world, can add photos and stories from their home where ever they may be, creating a book that is both interactive and ever changing. Designed to look and feel like a real book, it is also possible to print it off, at any stage, as a hard copy for any residents who may feel it gives them better access to it.

So we are really proud that yesterday we finished creating our first books. The stories ranged from a construction engineer who designed many of the buildings in Islington with photos of the council building he designed, to a woman's husband who was nicknamed the bravest of the brave for his role as a pilot in the RAF and later on he became a film critic for The Daily Telegraph.

The atmosphere in the dayroom was both lively and, at time, hugely emotional as residents, relatives, staff and our students shared those memories through the story app. With tea and cake aplenty to help the afternoon along, the event ended by listening to music from the past with two students singing a song for everyone.

We are very grateful to The Cabinet Office and The Pargiter Trust for their generous donations that have enabled this initiative to happen.

Jill Fraser

Jill Fraser

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