The visitor guest book: a tool to stay informed
A person with dementia may have many people involved in her circle of support; a neighbour who drops by regularly, family members and friends. As the disease progresses and the person receives more assistance, that circle may grow to include visits from service providers (such as social workers, occupational therapists, nurses, etc.) and volunteers. It can become difficult to remember all the comings and goings but also to be aware of who is involved and how they are contributing to the person’s day.
A visitor guest book serves as a reminder of who has come to visit in the home, as well as how they spent their time together with the person with dementia. It can be helpful as a conversation starter for other visitors and for the person with dementia to remember everything that has happened in his day.
We encourage people with dementia or their caregivers to purchase an inexpensive notebook or a journal to be kept in a central, obvious location in the home where visitors will easily locate it (such as by the front door). Choose a design that you like and feel free to be creative. Use the guest book in your own unique ways; add photos, wishes the person with dementia has expressed, describe your visit and your conversations, or draw a picture to highlight your feelings.
Though it is best if the guest book is made so the person with dementia can enjoy it to the fullest, we encourage the following information to always be included:
- The date of visit
- Visitor’s name
- How you spent your time together
- When you will come again (try to be as specific as you can)
If the person with dementia lives in a long term care home, check first to see if it is possible to leave a visitor guest book in the person’s room.
An example from a care provider:
Date: January 24, 2015
This is your home support worker, Anthony. Today, I came around 3:00pm to do the laundry and I made your favourite, mashed potatoes with broccoli and chicken for dinner.
It was nice talking to you today about your wife, Martha, and your dog, Pepper.
I will be coming back on January 26th, at 3:00pm.
See you in a few days.
An example from a friend or family member:
Date: April 12, 2015
This is your daughter Aisha; I’ve had a nice visit with you today at 1:00pm. We shared a tasty lunch together and had a good walk around the neighbourhood. We passed the convenience store where you told me that you used to buy your lottery tickets every weekend.
I will come on Wednesday, April 15th, for lunch time at 12:00pm. I will bring lunch so we can eat together at home. See you then.