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Ground-breaking training to support people with dementia


  • E-learning
  • Story/scenario driven
  • Video

Walkgrove created ground-breaking training for healthcare professionals to use life story work to support people with dementia.

The training need

As part of its commitment to develop the healthcare workforce and transform its services for people with dementia, South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust developed a multimedia toolkit to promote the use of life story work. Life stories are a collection of memories based on a person’s life which can be created and used as a tool to support people with dementia.

The Trust wanted to consolidate the toolkit “Portrait of a Life” into a shorter and more accessible e-learning course. The course needed to provide healthcare professionals and non-professional carers with an understanding of life story work as a tool for person-centred care and give them guidance on how to create and implement it.

Our bespoke learning solution

Walkgrove converted Portrait of a Life into a series of three 45-minute bespoke e-learning modules, designed to equip carers and healthcare staff with the skills and knowledge to deliver life story work when supporting people with dementia. Module one focused on explaining the basics of life story work and its relationship to personhood and meeting psychological needs. The second module focused on the evidence base and care models underpinning the practice, including wellbeing, person-centred and partnership-based approaches to care. The third module looked at life story work in practice to highlight the benefits, risks and ethical issues involved in its delivery. The course concluded with a validating assessment module to check that learners had understood the key points.

The custom e-learning modules use a simple and compelling mix of tutorial screens, including discovery-based interactions, clear text explanations, video snippets and exercises such as quick knowledge checks, self-reflection and scenarios. Modules also include testimonies from people living with dementia, carers and experts. To help learners understand how to apply the practices of life story work, Portrait of a Life presents case studies based on real experiences. E-learning development included developing high quality storytelling, realistic dialogue and relevant photographic imagery in order to resonate with learners.

Walkgrove also provided an instance of their light Learning Management System, Svelte, as part of the solution to facilitate access to the online learning modules and assessment.

The Portrait of a Life e-learning was the first digital training on life stories in the UK and was subject to a major pilot to evaluate its impact, including a three-stage survey and focus group with 60 staff. 87% of the learners surveyed noted an improvement in performance and behaviour with their service users. Clinical observation also noted marked improvements in communication, enjoyment and engagement between service users and staff. The course was shortlisted for three e-learning awards.

The success of the pilot and the overwhelmingly positive response from care workers and people with dementia led to a decision by the Trust to do a wide rollout of the training across their region, as well as generating interest from the Department of Health for a national roll-out.

What the client had to say 

“There’s clear evidence on the wards of the excellent work that staff are doing having undertaken the e-learning.”