Enhancing Well-Being in Later Life through Innovations in Narrative Care
Narrative care is an approach to health and healing that uses people’s life experience (i.e., their life stories or narratives) to address the many challenges facing older adults that can result in feelings of loneliness, meaninglessness, anxiety, depression, and despair. Research in the field of “narrative gerontology” has shown that approaches to care that involve some form of life story work (e.g., life review, life-writing, reminiscence) have a significant and positive impact in terms of health outcomes with this population. Narrative care is an extremely cost-effective solution that is immensely effective in strengthening the stories that are central to an older person’s identity, in helping them finding meaning in the events of later life, in creating and maintaining their connectedness with others, and in enhancing their resilience and their overall mental and physical well-being.
The team at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Narrative (CIRN) aims to develop a Train the Trainer program that is aimed at health and social care workers, seniors’ groups and church groups, acute care, home care, and long-term care facilities and agencies, as well as families and friends, in order to spread the practice – and promote the benefits – of narrative care with older adults.
The Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Narrative comprises members of St Thomas University and UNB from the fields of Education, Gerontology, Social Work, English, Sociology, and Nursing. All of them bring to this project on narrative care, not only expertise in their respective disciplines, but also long experience in education and training, in inter-generational work, and in health and social care.
The Director of CIRN, Dr Clive Baldwin, is Professor of Social Work, and Canada Research Chair in Narrative Studies at St Thomas University. He is the author of several scholarly articles and books, including a reader and commentary on the work of Tom Kitwood, progenitor of person-centered care in dementia. Dr Baldwin’s work on narrative extends across the fields of social work, ethics, dementia, narrative theory, and narrative methods.
Members of the CIRN team, including Dr Baldwin, are known nationally and internationally for their publications on narrative care and related topics (including a special edition of the Journal of Aging Studies in 2015), and have given papers, symposia, and keynote speeches at academic and professional conferences worldwide.