Touching Lives: What Does Person-Centered Care Actually Mean?

In a time when we can’t gather in person, Memory Bridge’s first webinar series, What Does Person-Centered Care Actually Mean?, drew together caregivers and loved ones of people with dementia from across the world. Michael Verde’s four-part series is based on the writings of Tom Kitwood, a pioneer in the field of person-centered care. Verde presented the series twice, beginning in July and wrapping up in October.

We’ve been honored and deeply moved by the heartfelt responses to this webinar series, and we’ve shared a few of them below. For all who attended, thank you for sharing the journey with us.

If your organization is interested in Memory Bridge delivering this webinar-based training series to your staff, please contact us.

There is no universally shared definition of person-centered care, and there are a variety of approaches to putting it into practice. Over the course of four presentations, Verde examines the origins of person-centered care, illuminating the way Kitwood himself understood it. Conceived for professional and family caregivers and for educators in the dementia field, the series seeks to open minds and hearts to a form of care in which our ordinary perception of ourselves and others is transformed into the experience of self-transcending communion.

“Our identity is not in our brains,” Verde explains, “but between us.”

My belief structure of what relationship with individuals diagnosed with dementia could be has been fundamentally altered by the presentation Michael Verde gifted us in these webinars.

- Wendy E.

The philosophy of Memory Bridge is not simply helpful for healthcare providers, it is indispensable.

- Celeste Wilson

The series begins with I and Thou: Caring Beyond Ego, which examines one of the principle influences on Tom Kitwood: Martin Buber. Michael distills the thought of Martin Buber, as presented in his renowned work “I and Thou,” linking Buber’s spiritual vision to Kitwood’s incorporation of it into the care of people with dementia.

“Mirroring”the process of reflecting back to the other his or her facial expressions, tone, word choices, and concernsis commonly taught to caregivers as a communication technique. But while a mirror is a helpful metaphor for conceptualizing how to communicate with people with dementia in a caring way, the most profound modes of connecting with another person are far more creative than any mirror could ever be.

The second webinar in the series, More Than Mirroring: Carl Rogers’s Actualizing Tendency in the Care of Persons with Dementia, explores another major influence on Kitwood: Carl Rogers, the man who coined the term “person-centered care.” Verde offers a penetrating illumination of one of the core concepts of Carl Rogers’s theory of human becoming: the actualizing tendency, with a focus on the implications—and applications—for the care of people with dementia.

An eye-opening and life-affirming experience. Michael's passion about the subject is contagious. Highly recommended.

- Christy Vogelsang

I have been a disciple of Buber and Kitwood for over twenty years. Michael Verde, in this webinar series, deepened my understanding and helped me think in new ways. I feel newly inspired in my work and in my life.

- Maggie S.

In 1989, Tom Kitwood wrote: “It is now becoming clear that virtually all the losses and difficulties of later life are socially constructed: that is, they are a consequence not of the aging process itself, but also the norms and collective arrangements that are taken for granted as applying to old age.”

In the third webinar in the series, There Is No Me Without You, Verde elucidates Tom Kitwood’s writings on the social dynamics of the experience of dementia. Central to the presentation is the concept of malignant social positioning, a key concept in Kitwood’s development of Dementia Care Mapping.

The presentation also introduces three skills of presence that dissolve dis-easing forms of communication and invite mutual understanding with people with dementia.

In one of the last of Tom Kitwood’s scholarly articles, published just months before his untimely death at the age of 61, he wrote: “The best dementia care is, paradoxically, a paradigm for human life. The excellent caregiver is, so to speak, a moral artist, and sets an example to all of us as we search for the right and the good.”
In the final installment of the series, The Care of People with Dementia as a Life Calling, Michael Verde explores caregiving as moral artistry, and the potential for spiritual transformation that awaits those who relax ego defenses, risk unscripted encounters, and invite new modes of normal into being.
Thought-provoking, mind-stimulating and heart-warming exploration, exegesis and practical unpacking of what Person Centred Care truly means. I am buzzing!

- Alec Thompson-Miller

Interested in Memory Bridge remote training opportunities for your organization? Please contact us.

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