In 1993, Jane Verity founded Dementia Care International, an independent social enterprise committed to improve the social and emotional care of people with dementia, their families and carers. To achieve this, she developed the Spark of Life Philosophy, which included skills to understand, connect and communicate with people who have dementia.
Jane had the dream and firm belief that if it was possible to find a way to enable people with advanced dementia to improve, that this could be adapted to enable people with other levels of dementia to benefit as well as frail elderly who did not have dementia.
The first step to achieve her dream was to develop an interactive, therapeutic social group program, specifically developed for people with advanced dementia. This program, known as the Spark of Life Club Program, focused on facilitating an ideal environment and connection for people with dementia to experience rehabilitation and the recovery of lost abilities.
The program proved to achieve its aim with consistent results of improvements in language, cognitive and social abilities as well as providing so much joy to all involved.
In 2004, the program was internationally endorsed as recommended best practice in a collaborative study between the Wisconsin Bureau of Aging & Disability Resources and the Wisconsin Office of Quality Assurance.
Between 2000 and 2007, the Club Program was researched by Hilary Lee as the main research topic for her Master’s Degree at Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia.
From the findings of the research, it was identified that the essence of the program needed to be expanded to all aspects of a person’s life so the benefits could be sustained by everyone in the care environment.
This became the start of a long and close working relationship between Jane and Hilary as they set out to further develop the essence of the club program into the Culture Enrichment Program, which has now evolved into the Spark of Life Whole System.
Three independent facilities took on to implement this culture enrichment program, one in Western Australia, one in Queensland, Australia and one in New Zealand. The results of implementing this entire program demonstrated that not only was the potential brought forth in residents and clients but in the staff members. In essence, there was a total transformation of the culture.
In July 2009, Dementia Care Australia was honoured with the international IAHSA Excellence in Ageing Services Award given by IASHA representing 30 countries for the Spark of Life Culture Enrichment Program.
From the award an international demand grew for a sustainable model that would enable the Spark of Life Philosophy to be implemented in other countries and cultures. This resulted in the development of the 3-week Spark of Life International Master Leadership Program. This program educates and certifies pioneering leaders from around the world to become Spark of Life Master Practitioners, equipping them with the tools and strategy to take their organisation on the journey to become a Spark of Life Centre of Excellence.
There are Spark of Life Master Practitioners in 11 countries on 5 continents implementing the Spark of Life Whole System.
The Spark of Life Philosophy is now also taking root in many other fields of human endeavour such as palliative care, education and trauma recovery.