Life Story Gathering

cynthia-montageThis page is for:

  • People who are working with or looking after older people and those living with dementia
  • Anyone interested in discovering new ways of engaging with older people to find out more about their lives
  • Organisations thinking of different ways to unlock and share people’s life experiences, or their memories of a particular place or event

The phrase ‘Life Story Gathering’ is often used in care home settings. It simply refers to finding out as much as you can about someone’s life, such as the key things that have happened to them, their memories and experiences of childhood and adulthood, and the people, places and events that were (and still are) important to them. Of course, the more you know about someone, the easier it is to look after and support them.

Sometimes it’s quite hard to know how to find out about someone’s life story. How do you get started? How do you ‘tap’ into people’s memories if they no longer have good communication skills? Having worked with the Association for Dementia Studies at the University of Worcester to deliver more than 30 workshops on how to gather life stories from elderly people and those living with dementia, I have witnessed the profound impact these sessions can have on people with dementia and those looking after them. I am happy to design workshops for your organisation’s specific needs – please ask me for further details.

“I really benefitted from Julia’s tips. I never realised how lonely one lady in our home was. Since the training session, I am always met with a smile by her.”
Sue, Care Home worker


Reminiscence is a very powerful way of engaging with groups of people. It can give participants a sense of well-being and involvement, and can be great fun too!

Are you thinking of running a reminiscence group? Or using reminiscence as a way to get to know people or individuals? I run practical workshops on running reminiscence sessions focussing on all the senses. Don’t be surprised to find yourself folding nappies, kneading dough or playing musical instruments! This can also be a good way of getting younger people to engage with older people. The barrier between the generations falls away and both age groups realise they have something to offer the other.

“I learnt so much about my clients. The session gave participants a feeling of self-worth as we were interested in them and what they had to share”
Jane, Care home worker


An audio reminiscence box created for Worcestershire County Council. The box contains a CD with short extracts of people talking about their childhood memories. Each theme also has a fact sheet with ideas for questions and prompts to start conversations and promote reminiscence.