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Research & Studies

Research Studies and Implementation Initiatives 

The Best Friends™ philosophy of care has been successfully applied in many caregiving settings and evaluated within a diverse number of programs. Here are some examples.


An evaluation study of Best Friends™ training in Maine (2002) reported results from 23 of 25 pilot-site participants including: staff felt more comfortable with communicating with residents with Alzheimer’s disease after training and reported that residents seem less stressed; a number of facilities incorporated Best Friends™ principles into their orientation programs; pilot sites noticed a distinct difference in the positive way training participants interacted with residents compared to staff who did not take the training; and families felt more involved in the ongoing care of their loved one and appreciated that staff were looking for new ways to help.

Heritage Community of Kalamazoo

In Michigan, Heritage Community of Kalamazoo undertook culture change beginning in 2006 by adopting the Best Friends™ approach. One hallmark of its continuing success is introducing all members of the community to Best Friends™. Courtney Way, R.N., Training and Development Manager, reported “Heritage has trained security guards, housekeepers, servers, and many nontraditional individuals, encouraging them to be Best Friends champions. The response to this approach, through comments and letters from friends and their families, has been amazing.”

American Baptist Homes of the West (ABHOW, now Human Good)

When American Baptist Homes of the West (ABHOW, now Human Goodsought CARF-CCAC accreditation, it partnered with David Troxel for guidance in the implementation of the Best Friends™ model of care so that its Grove memory care units could secure accreditation in dementia care. ABHOW was the first multi-site company in the U.S. to seek such accreditation for a dementia care program. Its memory care units consistently earned some of the highest scores in the evaluation process (2008).

Alzheimer’s Society of Calgary

The Alzheimer Society of Calgary, a licensed provider of Best Friends™ training to professional caregivers since 2003, concluded in a 2006 survey: “Evaluation results demonstrate how the Best Friends™ Approach Associate Trainer Program achieved positive results toward effecting change within organizations concerned with improving the quality of life of people with dementia” and “100% of respondents stated that the Best Friends™ approach has improved the delivery of care to persons with dementia.”

Alzheimer’s Association

When the Alzheimer’s Association launched its Campaign for Quality Residential Care (2005), co-director Peter Reed was quoted as having been inspired to launch the initiative after having volunteered under Virginia Bell and sharing a commitment to the Best Friends™ key element to “know the person first.”

Administration on Aging (AoA)

An Administration on Aging (AoA)–funded study (Danner & McGuire, 2010, Alzheimer’s Care Today) compared adult day center staff who were trained in the Best Friends™ approach to staff members without Best Friends™ training and found that introduction of this model of care for individuals with dementia not only was valuable but also delayed long-term residential placements.

Study results included the following:

“When asked specific questions related to the effectiveness of the program in making participants feel cheerful, energetic, content, lively, and anticipatory, [the study center] received higher ratings on all items [than the control center]. Similarly, when asked how effective the program was in minimizing the negative responses of anxiety, frustration, distress, irritation, and feeling of being fed up, [the study center] received much higher ratings in all categories” (p. 240).