An Authentic Partnership approach encourages communities to engage in critical reflection and to work collaboratively and equally to promote social change, equality, and empowerment. The Authentic Partnership approach focuses on including and valuing the unique perspectives of all key stakeholders, including persons with dementia, their partners in care and staff. The Authentic Partnership approach includes three guiding principles and five enablers.

Three Guiding Principles of Authentic Partnership

  • A genuine regard for self and others. This principle emphasizes personhood, human rights, and honouring individual differences. It highlights the importance of valuing and getting to know others as well as self, and believing in everyone’s ability to grow, develop, and learn.

  • Synergistic relationships. A synergistic relationship is one in which the strength of interdependent partnerships is rooted in trust, reciprocity, and diversity, where shared learning is valued and the voices of all those involved in the care process are considered. 

  • Focus on the process. Rather than focusing exclusively on project outcomes, this principle promotes the importance of remaining open, responsive, and flexible throughout the process, viewing learning as continuous and ongoing.  Partners learn from mistakes and embrace creativity, as they explore the possibilities for the future.

Five Enablers of Authentic Partnership

  1. Connect and commit. This enabler joins partners from different backgrounds together, to mutually set partnership goals and guidelines, considering the strengths of all partners involved.

  2. Create a safe space. To support the formation of strong relationships, a safe space must be established that is built on trust and where all partners feel comfortable and open, both physically and emotionally, to share their opinions. The space must also be free of distractions and fuel an awareness and sensitivity to any discomfort or frustration felt by the partners.  

  3. Value diverse perspectives.  This enabler emphasizes the importance of appreciating and considering all ideas, contributions, and forms of participation within the Authentic Partnership. This enabler also views differences between partners as opportunities to learn and grow from each other.

  4. Establish and maintain open communication. Building strong lines of communication and connection within the partnership, requires partners to use accessible language, clarify meanings, and provide alternative ways of sharing within the partnership, which may include the need for flexibility during meetings, to provide partners extra time to share and communicate.

  5. Conduct regular reflection and dialogue.  This enabler focuses on ongoing check-ins throughout the development of Authentic Partnerships.  It promotes the need for personal and group reflection and communication within the partnership, to assess what is going well, what can be improved, and how the partnerships can be strengthened.

Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program (MAREP) was highlighted as a leader in dementia care at the Alzheimer Disease International conference in 2011. Featured in a film showcasing the best practices in the dementia field around the world, MAREP was recognized for its innovative authentic partnership approach: