Research & Evidence

This segment is collated in chronological order with some of the research and evidence related to the implementation of the Spark of Life Philosophy and Model of Care.

The information included has been identified through independent university peer-reviewed research, International Master Practitioner evaluations, feedback from government audits of organisations implementing the whole system, a Churchill Fellowship research project and other relevant studies undertaken.



Churchill Fellowship Study by Janet Bolton, UK, 2012

The below is an extract from Janet Bolton’s report

‘All of the creative experiences that I encountered in Australia were similar to what is actually happening somewhere in the UK, apart from the Spark of Life Program.

What I saw and experienced in the Care facility in New Zealand that operated the ‘Spark of Life Whole Systems’ was different – it did unlock the person and from the reports of staff, research and inspection reports it had reduced the incidents of challenging behaviour significantly.’

Bolton Churchill Fellowship report on Spark of Life Philosphy 2012>>

Independent post-thesis report by Hilary Lee and Dr Angelica Orb, Curtin University of Technology, Perth Western Australia, 2008

A post-thesis study of the implementation of the Spark of Life Whole System at a facility in Perth, Western Australia, was undertaken by Hilary Lee under the supervision of Dr. Angelica Orb.

The results demonstrated that the Spark of Life Whole System encourages flexibility and willingness in the staff to work beyond boundaries resulting in satisfied and energized teams, and raised standard of care. Lee, H. (2008).

A Qualitative Study Researching the Spark of Life Club Program, Curtin University of Technology, Perth Western Australia,  2004-2007

After an initial 3 year pilot study, the 4 year peer-reviewed qualitative study as part of a Master’s Degree in Science (Research) was completed.

In-depth interviews were conducted to examine the perceptions of carers and families of the impact of the Spark of Life Club Program on the personal and emotional wellbeing of people with dementia.

The research identified that the participants in the club program, who were observed, experienced overall improvement. Even those who were thought lost to this world came out of their shell and reconnected with the world around them.

  • Lee, H. (2007) Masters in Science (research). Thesis: The Impact of the Spark of Life Program on the Personal and Emotional Wellbeing of People with Dementia: Carer’s and Families Perceptions. Curtin University of Technology, Perth. 

A collaborative study between the Wisconsin Bureau of Aging and Disability Resources and the Wisconsin Office of Quality Assurance, Wisconsin, USA, 2004

In Wisconsin, USA, the Spark of Life Club Program has been endorsed as recommended best practice both by the Wisconsin Adult Day Services Association (WASDA) and in a collaborative study between the Wisconsin Bureau of Aging and disability resources and the Wisconsin Office of Quality Assurance.

Wisconsin State-wide Advisory Committee on Quality of Life Outcomes for People with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia (2004). Quality of Life Outcomes for People with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia. Wisconsin Bureau of Ageing and Long Term Care Resources, Federal Administration on Ageing Alzheimer’s Demonstration Grant.

Click here to download the Dementia Outcomes Care Plan Tool >>


Report from Owner of Two Spark of Life Dementia Specific Centres of Excellence, Adriel House & Rest Home in New Zealand, 2020

Mischeal McCormick is a Spark of Life Master Practitioner, a Registered Nurse and Owner of two small Rest Homes (21 residents in each), specialising in the care of people living with dementia.  Adriel House and Rest Home are situated in a rural farming community, 40 kilometres north of Christchurch, New Zealand. In November 2019 both homes achieved certification as Spark of Life Centres of Excellence which means that their two homes have met specific requirements, showing comprehensive qualitative and quantitate evidence of an exceptional level of emotional care.

Mischeal states in her report:

We have experienced minimal behaviour issues – between 0 and 2 per month and PRN psychotropic medication has only been used 3 times in the last 3years. Fall rates have also been low with between 3 to 6 per month over last 3 years.

In April 2014, Adriel received its first Continuous Improvement (a New Zealand standard that represents exceptional outcomes) by independent Auditors for using the Spark of Life Philosophy and being able to evidence a reduction in challenging behaviours and depression.

In April 2017 when re-audited, we received a second Continuous Improvement for the continued use of the Spark of Life Philosophy and the positive impact it had on the lives of residents living at Adriel. When the Auditors interviewed the staff they stated they focus on “Bringing the light back into the residents’ eyes through meaningful and compassionate interactions and activities.’

Evidence from International Spark of Life Leaders

Each international organisation implementing the Spark of Life Philosophy and Whole System is conducting a systematic evaluation of its outcomes. This process enables all aspects of the Whole System to be documented and measured for continuous improvement and advancement of competencies in emotional care. As the evaluation findings become available, they are shared on this website.

The section on this website called Anecdotal Evidence provides a selection of detailed evidence demonstrating the sustainable benefits of implementing the Spark of Life Philosophy and Whole System in diverse countries, in hospitals, residential care, and community care.

Outcomes Reported in Australian Accreditation Newsletter. 2009 

A report for the Australian Accreditation Newsletter in July 2009 found that the Spark of Life Whole System led to improvement in residents function, wellbeing and social skills, with benefits in enriching the staff culture, which has seen the home become a preferred employer. In addition the staff had been reinvigorated and new insights and skills were gained into how to cope with the challenges and stresses experienced in Aged Care. Positive outcomes were reported from the residents having participated in the Spark of Life Club Program and were demonstrated through the use of the Creative Expressive Abilities Assessment Tool and the Bradford Well-Being Profile.

The leadership team from this organization presented their findings at the Better Practice Event, a conference supported by the Australian Government of best practice examples of care, in Perth, WA, and also at international conferences in Canada and Australia.

  • The Standard (July 2009), Spark of Life Wins International Recognition for Brightening Up Lives. Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency Ltd, Parramatta, New South Wales. p 2-3.

Quality Assurance Report Showing Reduction in Falls and the Spark of Life Philosophy,  Rockhampton,  Queensland, Australia, 2008

A Quality Assurance Report from Rockhampton in Queensland identified and discussed the relationship between the reduction in falls and the Spark of Life Philosophy.

Evidence of Creative Expressive Abilities of People with Dementia, Perth, Western Australia & cross referenced at University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada 2008

In the process of the development of the Creative Expressive Abilities Assessment Tool, several programs were used as samples of creative programs to test the tool. One observation during the process of this testing was that the Spark of Life Club Program consistently brought out strong Creative Expressive Abilities in people with dementia.

In 2008, a study by Gottlieb-Tanaka, Lee and Graf at the University of British Columbia, Canada, led to the development of the Creative-Expressive Abilities Assessment (CEAA) Tool. The Spark of Life Club Program was selected as a quality creative expression program for observation in the study. The club members observed in this study scored highly in all domains of the CEAA tool, including memory, language, psychosocial skills, reasoning, expression of emotions and culture.

  • Gottlieb-Tanaka, D., Lee, H. & Graf, P. (2008). The Creative-Expressive Abilities Assessment User Guide, ArtScience Press, Vancouver, Canada.