“My Story”: using a life story approach to build friendships between younger and older people to alleviate loneliness and social isolation
Purpose “My Story” is based on a life story approach. This study aims to facilitate therapeutic alliances by providing a format for older and younger people to interact. Design/methodology/approach Three pairings were studied to explore the experiences of the older and younger person using “My Story”. The focus of the case studies was on how and if any therapeutic alliance emerged. Findings This study found that in the two of the pairings, “My Story” helped to create a bond and mutual benefit for the participants’ central to a therapeutic alliance. This led one of the pairings to develop into an intergenerational friendship and potentially help with loneliness. Research limitations/implications As this was an exploratory and small pilot, more cases and research are required to fully assess if “My Story” is a useful approach to develop intergenerational befriending. Practical implications Intergenerational befriending may be one solution that could help with loneliness and social isolation through forming a therapeutic alliance to make the befriending successful. Social implications Loneliness and social isolation for older people remain a problem. Originality/value An original pilot was undertaken to test the approach by bringing together older people identified as lonely by a voluntary sector provider and pairing these with a student volunteer. The students visited the older person over six weeks to discuss their life story and create an artefact based on the story for the older person.
Author affiliationSchool of Healthcare, University of Leicester
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