Holistic Tools

Holistic tools are a valuable aspect of our model and identify that people’s health and wellbeing depends on a broad range of factors. Holistic assessments are carried out using ‘listening tools’ from our Connecting Care+ partners. Portrait of a Life (POAL) is an example of a holistic tool used. The POAL toolkit focuses on life-story work, to support care home staff to engage with residents who have health and/or social care needs, such as dementia.


Following an holistic assessment by the MDT, options are considered about the best way to meet residents’ needs. We understand that care homes cannot provide everything that someone might need to enhance their health and wellbeing, so we have built relationships with local Community Anchors who provide health and wellbeing activities for residents both in the community and at home. Examples of these include:

  • Providing volunteers to deliver group activities, such as chair-based exercise, befriending residents and supporting them to follow their interests
  • A resident identified that his health and wellbeing would be improved by spending some time gardening - this was one of the things that he had missed since moving into the care home. As the care home doesn’t have a garden, staff contacted the local Community Anchor and arrangements have been made for the resident to work on their garden.


Holistic assessments have made a significant difference to the care provided to residents; this was recognised during a recent CQC inspection of one of the care homes, where staff were praised for their person-centred care.

Case Study of Holistic Tools in Action

A local care home contacted the vanguard team regarding the difficulties they were having with Mr S, a resident with dementia, who would wake up at 4 o'clock each morning and wander around the care home requesting his breakfast.


Later that week, the Portrait of a Life team visited the care home to conduct a life story session. Families of residents were encouraged to attend the session, where they worked with residents to create a board which was filled with photographs and memorabilia from their lives. The board would then be displayed in each resident's room, as a conversation point to help both staff and families engage with residents.


Mr S created his board with his family, which featured photographs from his days as a miner which his family had brought along to the session. This allowed care home staff to realise that in Mr S's earlier life he had always woken up at 4am and had his breakfast before going out to work in the mines. Following this discovery, care home staff ensured that they left breakfast out for Mr S so that he was able to have this at 4am. This slight change in routine meant that moving forward Mr S ate his breakfast at 4am and returned to bed, overall ensuring the previous difficulties staff were diminished.