News & Events

Everyone’s life has a story

February 19, 2018

Everyone has a life story. It’s made up of anecdotes, family lore, beloved pets, and the things that each of us love and hate. It’s these stories that underpin a lot of the care provided to residents at Liscombe House, OCAV’s aged care facility, particularly those in the dementia unit.


There are 12 people with dementia in the Anne Jeffery Unit and staff, with help from the resident and their families, are writing each person’s story, capturing precious snippets of information before it is lost. Sometimes only the family and friends can fill in the gaps.


The simple storyboards, titled, What’s Important To Me, are colourful and full of photos and images. They are used by all staff to learn more about the Anne Jeffery residents and better understand who they are.


Shaaron Robilliard, Director of Nursing at Liscombe House, said the practice of writing stories as a care aid, is reaping benefits. There is a Dementia Wellness Team and any staff who work in the unit must be familiar with the stories to better support the residents.


“The storyboard provides an overview, or snapshot, of a person, and every staff member who cares for that person can look at it and fairly quickly become familiar with the story and suddenly know a bit about the person they are caring for,” Shaaron said.


“We encourage staff to use the information even to casually chat to a resident. Perhaps when they are making the bed they can start a conversation with the resident about their passion for pink roses, or the dog they loved so much, instead of talking about the weather.”


The storyboards are an extension of the thorough lifestyle assessment that is done for each resident within hours/days of coming to Liscombe House. The assessment covers their physical, mental and emotional health issues as well as other key lifestyle factors including religious, cultural and spiritual needs.


Mandy Williamson, Lifestyle Coordinator and Diversional Therapist at Liscombe House said the assessment is an accepted way of gathering information for one of the standards of accreditation and it is about trying to meet the needs of every resident.


“When people leave their homes after decades to come here, they can grieve for what they have left. We try to ensure that we make the transition to their new life as comfortable as possible,” Mandy said.


“Every three months we have resident, catering, lifestyle and activity meetings to discuss what is being done and make sure we are taking into account people’s needs.”


The What’s Important To Me stories explore some of the positive aspects of the resident’s life rather than just focussing on the limitations of their living with dementia. The information storyboards cover:

·       Family and people Important to me

·       Gifts, talents and contributions

·       How best to support me

·       What is important to me

·       About me


Shaaron said the information on the storyboards has been very important in helping staff manage difficult situations with residents.


“Sometimes, for no known reason a resident with dementia will become angry or very anxious and start crying inconsolably. Staff, armed with the information, are able to talk to them to settle their mood. We have seen the information used very affectively several times,” Shaaron said.


“One recent example was a resident who had become very anxious and upset and no one could work out what had triggered this behaviour. Her storyboard highlights her great love of the Richmond Football Club, so a staff member began talking to her about the football and how she used to go with her family. It triggered some memories that she then shared. A very difficult situation was able to be managed and the resident calmed down.”


Liscombe House staff, working with residents with dementia, knows something that many in the community have forgotten. People with dementia have had a long and full life; they have done a lot of things and loved a lot of people. They are still that person and the life is still theirs.

Caption: Mandy Williamson



Josephine Katite may be a long way from Kenya, where she was born and lived until 2005 but the experience of looking after her elderly grandparents is very much with her every day in her work at Liscombe House.

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