This year the “Authorized Center for Validation, Diakonissen Speyer” turned 20 years old. This means that my colleagues and I are employed by the oldest Authorized Validation Organization (AVO) in Germany. On November 12, 2022, this event was duly celebrated. Everyone agreed: Validation has become an indispensable part of the daily work in 10 of 13 senior centers of the Diakonissen Speyer and in the Evangelical Hospital in Bad Dürkheim.
One can see that these communities all implement a strategy for the implementation of Validation in everyday life. Most of them have been awarded the VTI Validation Quality Certificate. In addition, the Authorized Validation Center is well networked and all Validation courses and seminars are made available to the public. We maintain a lively relationship with our sister- AVO, the Authorized Validation Center at the Competence Center for Palliative Geriatrics, Unionhilfswerk in Berlin. One can say we afford ourselves the luxury of an empathic relationship with older adults living with cognitive impairments. These people are our focus. But how did this happen?
More than 20 years ago we became aware of Naomi Feil here in our region in the south of Germany. In 1996, I met Annemie Schmidt, who later was the first to lead the AVO, by chance at a workshop with Naomi Feil in Stuttgart. On that day, for the first time, I understood what deeply motivated my older relatives, who were disoriented in their last phase of life. It was clear to me: I want to learn Validation.
By 1998, the time had come: I attended a Validation Worker course with Vicki de Klerk. After that, the subject never left my mind. I became certified step by step and finally, in time for the first birthday of the AVO, I joined the team as a Validation Teacher. This was the beginning of our passionate journey together.
Our ever-changing team has built up a lot, in small steps, over these years. We were consistently inspired by Naomi Feil’s wonderful Validation principles, such as:
- “every behavior has a reason”
- “painful feelings that are validated by a trusted person become weaker”
- “old, disoriented people are in the Resolution Stage, striving to die in peace”
These were, and still are the benchmark of our actions. I am grateful that we have been able to meet so many people in our seminars and courses who wanted to learn Validation and who have contributed to the fact that Validation is now “living” in our senior centers. There are lively Validation teams that support each other in their work. There are validation groups where disoriented older adults find their living space. There are regular courses for relatives. Relatives can get advice in consultation hours. Individual validation takes place there every day. We have often been able to avoid the use of psychotropic drugs and restraints.
Constantly, it is clear to us, without Naomi Feil’s Validation our world would be poor. The shaping of relationships with people living with dementia would not be guided by humanistic principles. I am happy that I have been able to work for Validation for most of my working life so far. It is and has been a meaningful, fulfilling process for me, despite all the ups and downs we have overcome. Our love story continues. Hopefully we can pass on the Validation spark to some more people.
By: Hedwig Neu, Teacher for Nurses, Validation- Master/Teacher, Head of the “Authorized Center for Validation,” Diakonsissen Speyer
The Validation Training Institute (VTI) is a non-profit organization that advances knowledge, values, education and research rooted in the Validation method. The objective is to nurture respect, dignity and well-being in the lives of older adults experiencing age-related cognitive decline and their caregivers. Our vision for the future is that every older adult experiencing age-related cognitive decline, and their caregiver, can feel the joy and love of meaningful communication.