Objectives: To evaluate the effect of different pathways for developing a life story book (LSB) for people with dementia.
Method: Preliminary randomised control trial; 23 people with dementia in care homes (mean age 86) randomly assigned to receive either 12 individual life review sessions and co-creating a LSB or a personal LSB created by their relatives as a ‘gift’
Results: No difference in quality of life (quality of life–Alzheimer's disease (QOL–AD)) was observed between the two groups, six weeks after having received the LSB (F(1,20) = 0.08, p = 0.77). At this point, QOL–AD had improved for both groups, but there was a significant between-group difference at an intermediate assessment immediately after the life review sessions had been completed, before the LSBs were received (F(1, 20) = 5.11, p = 0.035), in favour of life review. A similar pattern was observed on autobiographical memory (extended autobiographical memory interview), with the life review group improving significantly more than the gift group during the life review sessions, but no difference was observed once all participants had had their LSB for six weeks. After the LSBs were produced – by either pathway – quality of relationship as rated by relatives improved significantly (F(2, 39) = 19.37, p <0.001) and staff knowledge regarding the resident and attitudes to dementia improved.
Conclusion: The creation of LSBs – either through a life review process or by relatives without involving the person with dementia – has benefits for people with dementia, relatives and staff in care homes. However, undertaking a life review requires training and supervision.