Living Histories help Bridge the Connection

In health care, there are always lots of opportunities for improvement. In hopes of enhancing the quality of life for residents, we are focused on resident centred care and helping residents live more. Over the past six months, Northwood has introduced a program called Living Histories.

Created by a registered nurse from Illinois, the program aims to help healthcare workers provide care for the ‘heart and soul’ of the resident. It is a process of gathering and sharing basic life information, such as where the resident was born, where they worked, what their hobbies were/are and things about their family. When a resident comes to live at Northwood, they are asked lots of questions about medical conditions and past medical history. This is very different. Living Histories is about the resident and nothing about their medication condition.

There are currently 18 trained volunteers completing interviews for the Living Histories initiative. One of those volunteers is Elizabeth Thorpe. Already a registered Northwood volunteer, Elizabeth heard about the program in an email. “Because of my interest in genealogy,” she says, “I thought it would be an excellent idea to encapsulate living memories.” So far, she’s interviewed and written the life histories of four residents.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed meeting the residents and listening to them tell me about their lives. It is a rare moment when one sees another person’s eyes light up whilst recalling a memory.” Elizabeth strongly encourages other volunteers to become part of the program. “This program recognizes that every individual has noteworthy abilities and life experiences that should be cherished.”

It is Northwood’s hope that a Living History will be created for each resident living in care. The written stories are/will be accessible not only to all In Care Living staff, but also to residents and families.

The Living History Program© is offered through The Beryl Institute, the global community of practice and premier thought leader on improving the patient experience in healthcare. Learn more at