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The Best Friends™ philosophy

A philosophy of person-centered care

At the Alzheimer Society of Calgary, our programs and services are founded on the Best Friends Approach™ philosophy of care. This is a model of care for people with dementia emphasizing empathy and friendship and is based on books written by two experts in the field of dementia research (Virginia Bell and David Troxel).

Our staff members are thoroughly trained in the Best Friends Approach™ as it aligns with our guiding principle of person-centered care. This means we put the needs and interests of the person living with dementia first.

What makes the Best Friends Approach™ Unique?

Best Friends™ is a relational care philosophy, emphaszing respect, empathy, support, trust, and humor.  It supports care providers in their efforts to transform the attitudes and practices of staff, as well as the culture of their communities that are providing memory care.

Instead of being task-based like many other care philosophies, Best Friends™ focuses on the individual - each person’s rights and personal history, as well as his or her relationships with all care partners.

Those who have used and endorsed the approach often find that it improves not only the quality of care for the people they serve, but the efficacy and satisfaction of staff.

We often hear from care partners or students who have trained in several other care philosophies/methods. These individuals emphasize the broad and multi-faceted scope of understanding that Best Friends™ provides, making it much easier to understand and effectively handle the specific challenges and opportunities of care for someone with dementia.  With Best Friends™, care partners are better equipped to understand not only the challenges experienced by an individual with dementia, but the specific challenges of dementia caregiving itself, and practical strategies and principles of care.

We uphold the beliefs outlined in the Best Friends Approach™

At the Alzheimer Society of Calgary, we believe that every person diagnosed with dementia has the right:

  • To be treated as an individual, with dignity and respect
  • To be informed of one’s diagnosis
  • To have appropriate, ongoing assessments and medical care
  • To live in an environment designed for an individual’s abilities and interests
  • To be involved in work and play for as long as possible
  • To be outdoors on a regular basis
  • To have physical contact including hand holding and hugging, based on individual comfort and needs
  • To be with people who know and understand one’s life story, including family, cultural and religious traditions
  • To be cared for by individuals willing to participate in ongoing training in dementia care

If you have questions, please contact us

The Best Friends Approach™ is available for your personal use. You may access copies of the books in a number of ways:

  • contact the Alzheimer Society of Calgary’s main office and ask to borrow them
  • visit the public library branch closest to you
  • find them for purchase online or at your local bookstore