Validation Training Institute

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Tribute to Hildegard

Hildegard’s path to Validation started when she worked as a social worker for older adults in a retirement home in Lasberg, Upper Austria.  Hildegard herself describes her own perplexity about how to deal with old-old people in difficult situations as the key experience on her way to Validation.

I had only been working in a nursing facility for a short time when I encountered a very old woman, over 90 years old. She was sitting on a sofa in her room, desperately rummaging through her purse, and she asked me, “Is my father coming today?” I was mute, for I sensed her desperation and longing, and I was unable to respond. I knew that if I simply told her the truth, that her father was long dead, it would plunge her even more into despair. If I lied to her, with good intentions, and explained that her father would be here soon, she would know I was lying. I remember muttering: I don’t know either and disappearing from the room. And so, in my helplessness, I began to look for a way that would show me how to respond in such and similar situations.  That’s how I found Validation. 

As a trained Validation teacher, Hildegard then found her way to the AVO in Linz, Samariterbund, in 2012. In this position, she has continued to spread Validation with full conviction, heart and soul.  She has not only promoted existing certified course formats (Validation Workers, Validation Group, and more), by inspiring participants with her typical infectious manner, but has also been involved in the overall further development of Validation.  The concept of training for Validation Worker has been successful for several years because of her personal commitment.  Together with Margit Wimberger, she developed the concept, including a comprehensive curriculum and corresponding teaching materials, into a training model authorized by VTI.  Hildegard deserves special thanks for this.

Hildegard has also been a Master in VTI since 2017 in recognition of her commitment to Validation and her professional expertise.  After corona-related restrictions on training in Validation and a personal sabbatical for health reasons, Hildegard is back in the role she loves as a trainer in many areas, including beyond the boundaries of Validation.  Deservedly, Hildegard began her retirement on August 1, 2023 including retiring from her role as coordinator of the AVO-Samariterbund in Linz.  We wish you many more healthy years and fun with your lecturing activities and would like to thank you once again for your commitment to Validation and your excellent work in the last 11 years in the AVO-Samariterbund Linz.

The AVO-Samariterbund Linz will continue this work in the usual quality and with the same commitment and is pleased to have found a successor as AVO coordinator in Gudrun Grünberger.

We are looking forward to working with Gudrun and together we will continue to actively bring Validation into the hearts of future assistants, users, group leaders, presenters and Validation teachers.

About Gudrun Grünberger

My family situation changed a few years ago as the children grew older and I had more time for myself.  I began thinking about continuing my education and stumbled upon the Validation method that seemed to be the right fit.   In 2016, I began my Level 1 training in Linz at the Samariterbund and my fire for Validation was ignited.  Immediately, I began to notice the benefits not only for me personally, but also fort he older adults with whom I worked.  As a result, I pursued my goal to become a validation teacher and became in 2018 became a Certified Validation Teacher.  On my way I was accompanied by Hildegard Nachum and Waltraud Pommer, who taught me so much.  Since 2018 I have been teaching in the elder care school of the province of Upper Austria.  Since 2023, I also consult for BFI (BerufsFörderungsInstitut – an institution of adult education for professional (further) qualification) in Linz and Wels.  A great concern of mine is that I pass on my knowledge to relatives of people living with dementia in the form of lectures and talks.

As of September 1, 2023, I will take over from Hildegard Nachum at AVO-Samariterbund Linz and, as coordinator of AVO, will continue to supervise and expand validation.

Challenges for the Future

The demographic development and the medical progress of people living longer lead to an ever increasing group of very old, disoriented people.  The greatest challenge for the future will be to establish the concept of Validation according to Naomi Feil among the caring relatives of these people and to convey it in a practical way.  After all, 80% of old, disoriented people are cared for at home by their relatives.  In addition to this challenge, another major goal of the AVO-Samariterbund Lijnz will be to see the stigmatizing diagnosis of “dementia” in a different light.  The inner wisdom and life experience of these people must be brought further into the foreground and communication with these people must be perceived as an opportunity to learn every day until old age.