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Best Friends™ is a person-centered, compassionate approach grounded in the understanding that relationships are supremely important to dementia care and that they require the essential elements of friendship: respect, empathy, support, trust, and humor. Introduced more than 20 years ago by Virginia Bell, M.S.W., and David Troxel, M.P.H., as a model way to provide Memory Care services, this care philosophy has achieved an international reputation for its positive outcomes. Communities following the Best Friends™ approach care for the whole person—physically, emotionally, and spiritually—in ways that bring meaning, security, and joy to residents’ daily lives. Staff also enjoy greater success and satisfaction in their work, and families feel confident when their loved one is cared for following the Best Friends™ model. The Best Friends™ approach promotes the dignity and individual rights of people with memory loss through knowing the history and preferences of each resident, communicating skillfully, and providing a supportive environment and meaningful engagement.
A Best Friends™ Certified Master Trainer is qualified to teach his or her co-workers about the Best Friends approach and its implementation. Master Trainers are skilled on-site staff members who can provide ongoing training, coaching, support, inspiration, and programming advice for every level of staff at that location. Master-level training can be received at a Best Friends Training Institute hosted by Health Professions Press or be arranged exclusively for your own staff at a site hosted by your organization.
A Best Friends™ Expert Leader is an individual so experienced in the Best Friends™ principles and practices, as well as in adult learning, to be designated by the original authors and developers as able to provide “train-the-trainer” instruction to others in the application of Best Friends™. The current Expert Leaders are Virginia Bell (developer, author, Expert Leader), David Troxel (developer, author, Expert Leader), Tonya Cox (author, Expert Leader), and Cindy Lilly (Expert Leader).
The Best Friends™ Approach Institute is a hosted training event where the Best Friends™ Expert Leaders join a group of Master Trainer candidates for 3 days of instruction on the principles and practices of the Best Friends™ approach and adult learning techniques, with the goal of preparing them to be licensed trainers in this widely acclaimed care philosophy. Currently, multiple Institutes are held throughout the year virtually via Zoom. You may also elect to coordinate with Health Professions Press to host an on-site or virtual Master Training event for your own staff with a minimum of 10 individuals knowledgeable in the Best Friends approach.
Master Trainer certification is conferred only after qualified individuals have completed an authorized Best Friends™ training course and demonstrated mastery of “train-the-trainer” instruction in the principles and practices of the Best Friends™ approach to dementia care. The training process includes 3 days of interactive instruction held virtually via Zoom and hosted by HPP (or at an on-site event or virtual event coordinated with HPP) featuring training by Best Friends™ Expert Leaders. With pre/post-testing, plus individual exercises, small-group activities, and presentations across the 3 days, the Best Friends™ Master Training is structured to provide optimal engagement and retention. Applicants for Master Trainer status are expected to be well-versed in the Best Friends™ approach principles prior to attending Master Training.
Currently, Institutes are held several times a year, virtually via Zoom. Organizations may also elect to coordinate with Health Professions Press to host an on-site or virtual Master Training event for their own staff. Up-to-date information on the next available Institute and details for Master Training options can be found here.
For a group of 10 or more individuals from the same organization, the organization may petition Health Professions Press for a training to be held at the location or virtually with dates of its choosing (contingent on the availability of an Expert Leader). If training onsite, in addition to paying the participants’ standard training fees, the organization will be responsible for providing for the training venue and the travel expenses for the necessary training staff. Arranging for an organization-specific training session with an Expert Leader does provide the opportunity for addressing specific goals and interests of the group.
The training itself is held over 3 days. Time needed to be prepared to attend an Institute or on-site Master Training will vary with the individual, depending on how well versed the applicant is with the principles of the Best Friends™ approach. (The application process is addressed in the eligibility question below.) For those who are interested in adopting the Best Friends™ approach but are not yet ready for Master Training, a 1- or 2-day introductory training, followed by on-site practice, can effectively prepare a group to be ready to advance to Master Trainer certification. Health Professions Press schedules these introductory trainings on a customized basis at the organization’s location. Please email for details. You can see all upcoming trainings here.
Any professional who works in a long-term care facility, assisted living community, home health agency, adult day center, or Alzheimer’s Association, or who is an independent dementia trainer or consultant who has experience with the Best Friends™ model, is eligible to attend. Successful Master Trainer candidates have included executive directors, activity directors, nurse managers, memory care directors, adult day services managers, homecare providers, and others. Applicants must complete and pass a pre-test that demonstrates they have a sufficient level of familiarity with Best Friends™ principles to qualify for Master Training. Applicants will be notified via email of their acceptance.
As a certified Best Friends™ Master Trainer, you have the opportunity to be an advocate and leader in bringing an acclaimed person-centered model of care to your work setting or clients*. A Master Trainer gains the ability to train co-workers and volunteers for your employer in locations under the operation of the employer. You will serve as resident expert at the single work location where you are based and ensure fidelity of practice in this Best Friends™ Environment. The Best Friends™ Master Trainer may hold free informational sessions on the Best Friends™ approach for the public as a form of community outreach to inform prospective volunteers, or families of current or prospective clients, about your community’s unique care culture. Master Trainers gain access to exclusive, password-protected content available in the Best Friends™ Portal on HPP’s website. Special discounts and offers on Best Friends™ products published by HPP are also available. * Contact for information about the Best Friends™ Master Trainer “certificate extension” that allows Master Trainers to deliver fee-based training to interested groups of carers. Additional licensing terms and fees apply for this privilege.
If you work for an organization but are not based in a single building or location, you can still qualify as a Master Trainer. It is your employer’s discretion as to whether it would like to designate one physical location as a Best Friends™ Environment in association with conveyance to you of Master Trainer status; however, only one setting may carry a Best Friends™ Environment designation per Master Trainer. It is understood that having an on-site trainer and advocate for the Best Friends™ approach is the optimal way to implement and maintain a Best Friends™ culture on a continuing basis. This standard may be incorporated into quality rating systems and supports fidelity of implementation. For organizations with multiple physical sites, special onsite trainings can be held to train a group of Master Trainers at one time. Email for more information.
Please visit our training page for the current training fee schedule. The initial training for certification includes a one-year license, which can be renewed on an annual basis for $325 per year to maintain certification as a Best Friends™ Master Trainer. The annual renewal cost is $395 per year for Master Trainers who acquire the “certificate extension” to conduct fee-based training. Additionally, Master Trainers who have the “certificate extension” remit a percentage-based fee associated with the revenue generated from each Best Friends™ training they provide to a paying client.
Organizations that have previously participated in Master Training Institutes receive special rates for new participants. Early Bird discounts are available for most trainings.
Participating in a Best Friends™ Approach Institute confers a 1-year initial license, which may be renewed on an annual basis thereafter. Currently, the renewal fee is $325 per year (or $395 per year for a Master Trainer “certificate extension”).
Master Trainers who have qualified for the extended privilege to conduct fee-based Best Friends™ trainings must report to HPP on all Best Friends™ trainings they conduct. The Trainer will be responsible for paying Health Professions Press a royalty per training based on the revenues collected (with allowance for deduction of materials costs and facility/travel costs when applicable). The details of this process and royalty structure will be discussed with you when the Master Trainer certification with certificate extension in granted. Applicants may contact for more information regarding the reporting process prior to applying for the program.
Master Trainers with certificate extensions are asked to report twice a year on the trainings they hold and to submit, at minimum, the following basic information: (1) number of attendees, (2) per-attendee registration fee and any materials or other fees if charged, (3) direct costs (itemized), (4) date of training, (5) location of training, and (6) attendee names and email addresses (if permission to share is granted by the attendee). HPP also works with Master Trainers with certificate extensions to ensure their offerings meet with approved standards and to arrange specific terms if applicable.
Unless a Master Trainer has qualified for a “certificate extension,” it is not necessary to inform HPP of in-house or free informational trainings conducted under the standard rights and obligations of a Master Trainer. A petition must be made to HPP for authorization to conduct any training that falls outside the types allowed under the standard Master Trainer certification.
Organizations with Best Friends™ Environment designation may use creative ways to promote their use of the Best Friends™ approach, from posters and signs within their buildings to staff name badges and Best Friends™ job descriptions. Organizations also promote their adoption of Best Friends as exhibitors at regional and national conferences, in TV/radio ads, on their website, and through educational events in their local communities. Upon certification, guidelines are provided to all Best Friends™ trainers on how they (and their organization, if applicable) may use the Best Friends™ name and logo in promotional collateral. Marketing ideas and sample resources are also provided to trainers by HPP. All marketing or derivative material created by the trainer or his/her organization for external promotion must be submitted to HPP for approval at least 30 days before use. Email materials to for review; you will receive a response within 10 days.
Yes, as long as ideas and materials are submitted to HPP for review and approval of proper usage prior to dissemination. Contact the Best Friends™ Brand Manager by phone (888-337-8808 or 410-337-9585 x185) or by email ( for more information.
The Best Friends™ Portal ( is a resource-rich location on the HPP website that provides helpful information on the Best Friends™ approach. Master Trainers are entitled to access additional content in a password-protected section, which provides training materials, handouts, marketing tips, artwork, and other useful information to support Master Trainers in their implementation of the Best Friends™ approach. Master Trainers receive their personal log-in information after receiving their certification.
Contact the Best Friends™ Brand Manager by phone at 888-337-8808 or 410-337-9585 x180, or by email