The Hearthstone Institute’s training programs and materials are based on over 25 years of research and field study conducted by the Hearthstone Research Division.

The body of work produced by the Hearthstone Research Division over the last 25 years provides a solid evidence-base for the I’m Still Here® approach. Led by Michael Skrajner and in collaboration with some of the premier thought leaders in dementia care including Dr. Barry Reisberg, Dr. Peter Whitehouse, and Dr. Paul Raia, the Hearthstone Research Division is considered to be a world-wide pioneer in the field of non-pharmacological interventions and is the leading non-pharmacological research organization funded by the National Institute of Health.

The Hearthstone Research Division has successfully executed publishable research related to:

  • Techniques used to effectively communicate with persons living with dementia
  • Behavioral changes observed in cognitively impaired adults who take part in I’m Still Here® programs
  • Long-term outcomes of innovative I’m Still Here® interventions

The Hearthstone Institute uses evidence from the Research Division’s federally- and privately-funded research studies to determine which activities and approaches are most beneficial to persons living with dementia. Standardized measures are used to determine the effects of different activities and interventions. Study results are published in peer-reviewed journals and presented at scientific conferences.

Moreover, this research has been successfully translated into practice at the Hearthstone Residences on a daily basis. This is why we are so confident that when an organization is trained by the Hearthstone Institute, memory care staff who implement the I’m Still Here® approach experience the satisfaction and professionalism of witnessing the meaningful and measurable impact on persons in their care.

Read more about the ways in which interventions for persons with dementia are evaluated, as well as the results that have been found in research conducted by Hearthstone’s Research Division. In addition, you will find references to articles that have been published by Hearthstone’s researchers and recommendations for further reading.

Evolution of the I’m Still Here® Methodology

Evolution of the I’m Still Here® Methodology

1992: Research on environmental design for Memory Care (walking paths, exit doors, common spaces)
1992: Study funded by the Geriatric Drug Therapy Research Institute: Medication Management
1993: First Hearthstone residence opens in Hopkinton MA
1993: Study funded by the Administration on Aging: Community Based Partnerships for Alzheimer’s Care
1993: Development of the Life Quality activity program (mid stage)
1993: Development of the basic I’m Still Here® communication techniques
1993: Development of first dementia specific medication administration program (adopted by MA state)
1993: Development of advanced dementia specific training for care giving staff
1994: Development of the I’m Still Here® Personal Care experience
1994: SBIR funded: Design Criteria for Alzheimer’s Special Care Program
1994: Development of the I’m Still Here® Dining Experience
1994: Development of the Enhanced program (late stage)
1995: Healing Garden: design elements, therapeutic uses
1995: Memory Boxes (design and use as a reminiscence tool)
1995: Development of the Cognitive Strengthening Program (early stage)
1996: Development of Treatment Photos
2000: SBIR funded: Resident Centered Information Systems for Assisted Living
2001: “Talking Lights” in‐ceiling tracking system research (privately funded)
2004: SBIR funded: open label study of Depakote
2005: Research and development of Montessori learning principles
2006: Namaste programming study (not implemented)
2007: Procedural Interval Learning (PIL)™ study
2007: Artists for Alzheimer’s™ launch
2008: SBIR funded : development of RAMP™ (Resident Assisted Montessori Programming)
2010: Memory books study
2010: Development of POWER™ non‐pharmacologic interventions planning model
2011: Development of C‐MAP™ concept
2011: Research and development of Hearthside stories™, Lingo Bingo™, Category Sorts
2011: SBIR funded: The Hearthside Book Club; Pioneering Dementia‐Level‐Appropriate Reading Materials
2011: Development of Interactive Art Gallery
2012: Development of the Pathways™ clubs/classes/committees model
2012: I’m Still Here® book is published (English addition)
2012: Development of the Morning Gathering
2012: SBIR funded: Life Is A Stage; Dementia Care and the Dramatic Arts (Scripted Improv™)
2012: Hearthstone featured in nationwide PBS Hopeful Aging
2013: Development of independent Learning Stations
2013: Resident‐lead refreshment buffet study
2013: Resident‐directed exercise programs study
2013: Learning for Life™ Academy opens
2013: It Takes a Village™ launch
2013: Development of the I’m Still Here® Skills Inventory Assessment tools
2014: Development of the Music & Movement program
2014: Development of Sensory Spa
2015: SBIR funded: development of multi‐level Hearthside stories
2016: Development of multi‐level Morning Gathering
2016: SBIR funded: Home 4 Care

Please click here for information related to the 2021 FCOI policies and procedures.


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  • “This training program has so many aspects that make it such a differentiator from anything else out there. It is so intensive and comprehensive.”

    – Project Manager at Retirement Community