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3. Life experience

Life experience is the third Guiding VALUE. It describes the connection between a person’s past, their present-day experience, and their hopes for the future.

Life experience has one ‘Element’:

1. Supporting the sense of self

This Element is then broken down into a set of ‘Actions’, which provide examples of person-centred approaches in four key areas.


1. Supporting the sense of self

Every person is different; their needs are unique, individual and change over time. The sense of self is what people consider most important about them and can assist in understanding a person’s needs.

Working with the consumer and their carers

  • Respect and value consumers for who they are now, as well as for who they were in the past
  • Address consumers by their preferred name and avoid using pet names or generic terms like ‘dear’
  • Collate and use a person’s life story as the foundation of current and future provision of support
  • Provide consumers and their carers with culturally sensitive information
  • Respect people’s beliefs and practices regarding illness, death and bereavement

Working with staff

  • Recognise all people as individuals regardless of their role
  • Ensure a shared understanding of issues with staff
  • Respect the life story and experience of staff
  • Make attempts to match staff with the type of work they are most suited to

Organisational leadership, systems and culture

  • Encourage the use of a life story approach in care planning and day-to-day contacts with consumers
  • Promote the right of individuals to genuine ownership and participation in care planning
  • Individualise support plans to ensure that they are reflective of what is important to people
  • Identify and monitor change in people’s capabilities and needs
  • Ensure behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia are assessed and understood
  • Make available to staff information about consumers’ life stories and connections to community

Education, supervision and support

Ensure staff:

  • Know how to build relationships with consumers and their carers
  • Understand the progressive and individual nature of dementia
  • Understand how relationships can change over time for consumers
  • Know how to use non-verbal behaviour to engage people and are aware  of the impact of their non-verbal communication on others
  • Understand the importance of a life story approach and use it in their interactions with people

Continue to the next VALUE: 4. Understanding relationships

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