Best Friends Staff, Second Edition

Learning to Deliver Exceptional Dementia Care

By Virginia Bell, M.S.W., and David Troxel, M.P.H., with Tonya Cox, M.S.W., LNHA

ISBN 978-1-938870-95-8
approx. 336 pages
7 x 10 paperback
© Jun 2024


Available on backorder

Product Description

Embark on a journey of transformative care with this completely revised and updated edition that provides solutions to the challenges of staffing and retention in dementia care!

Staff members are key to excellent person-centered dementia care, and outstanding memory care programs can only be created with staff education and training that builds empathy, understanding, and skills. This second edition of The Best Friends Staff is a comprehensive guide to unlocking unparalleled quality of life for individuals with memory loss while nurturing the well-being of the dedicated staff providing care.

Covering a range of topics—including healthcare and medical basics, empathy and understanding, dementia-related behaviors, and more—you will learn a framework for staff to do their work with skill, purpose, and satisfaction. Core concepts of the acclaimed Best Friends™ approach—the Dementia Bill of Rights, caregiving Knack, the Life Story, and communication—are explained, and readers will find dozens of ideas for creatively and effectively teaching staff about these principles and how to work with them. Each chapter provides handouts, worksheets, and exercises that can be downloaded, copied, or adapted and used in training programs and classes.

Your tool kit for success! In this book you will find:

  • Practical tool kits: Explore chapter-by-chapter tool kits filled with innovative training techniques and engaging learning exercises.
  • Expert guidance: Benefit from the wisdom of Best Friends Master Trainers—experts who share invaluable tips and recommendations derived from their own experiences successfully implementing the approach.
  • Staff support and retention: Uncover proven strategies to support and retain your invaluable staff, ensuring a workplace culture that thrives on camaraderie, confidence, and job satisfaction.
  • Cultivating a care culture: Immerse yourself in actionable ideas that redefine and elevate the care culture within your organization, fostering an environment where compassion and excellence intertwine seamlessly.

Whether your aim is to enhance staff training or build a new and improved program, the practical tools in this book will guide you in training team members effectively, onboarding them with success, motivating them to learn and grow, and retaining skilled, caring people in an industry plagued by high turnover rates.

NEW to this edition

The core Best Friends™ philosophy remains the same, but the training materials are new and revised for the needs of today’s practitioners. New content includes:

  • All-new Tool Kits for each chapter, containing learning activities, handouts, and programming advice
  • A “Field Notes” section featuring advice from experienced Best Friends practitioners
  • Revised stories and case studies reflecting contemporary settings and issues
  • Increased focus on staff recruitment, development, and retention


  • The concept of friendship is easy for staff to understand and apply in daily care
  • Relationships are essential in dementia care by fostering respect, empathy, support, trust, and humor
  • This care model helps everything go better by knowing the history and preferences of each person, by communicating skillfully, and by providing a supportive environment with meaningful engagement


The Best Friends™ approach to dementia care is an internationally acclaimed, person-centered program adopted by caregivers all over the world! Discover all the ways Best Friends can benefit your residents and programming through an array of products and services.

For more information on Best Friends™ products and services, visit

Format: E-book
e-ISBN: 978-1-938870-96-5

Coming soon!

Coming soon!

Coming soon!

Virginia BellVirginia Bell, M.S.W., was one of the most influential thought leaders in the field of dementia care over the last four decades, who continued right up to the time of her passing in 2023 to improve the lives of people with dementia and their caregivers. Her Best Friends™ model of dementia care transforms attitudes in care institutions and among families about a debilitating disease. An author, speaker, and advocate, her work has profoundly influenced the lives of untold individuals, and her Best Friends approach to dementia care continues to be adopted world-wide by care programs.

She lectured widely on Alzheimer’s disease at national and international conferences, speaking at the National Education Conferences of the Alzheimer’s Association and lecturing at the conferences of Alzheimer’s Disease International. She has published journal articles and book chapters, notably in Dementia Care: Patient, Family and Community (John Hopkins, 1989). Many of her articles have been reprinted numerous times: “The Alzheimer’s Disease Bill of Rights” (1994), “The Other Face of Alzheimer’s Disease” (1999) and “Spirituality and the Person with Dementia” (2001), co-authored with David Troxel and published in the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and in Alzheimer’s Care Quarterly. She has also co-authored six books with David Troxel, beginning with The Best Friends Approach to Alzheimer’s Care. She received her M.S.W. from the University of Kentucky in 1982.

David TroxelBased in northern California, David Troxel, M.P.H., is nationally and internationally known for his expertise in the fields of dementia & long-term care. He has co-authored (with Virginia Bell) six influential books, including his newest book, and written numerous articles relating to dementia care and staff development and training. He is a writer, trainer, and long-term care consultant who has spoken at over 500 conferences including keynote presentations at various U.S., Canadian, and international conferences. He served for a decade as the Executive Director of the Santa Barbara (California) Alzheimer’s Association (1994-2004). He also helped support his mother, Dorothy, in her 10-year journey living with Alzheimer’s disease. David’s areas of expertise include best care practices for persons with dementia, caregiver support, staff training, and long-term care program development. More information about David’s work can be found on his website at or on Facebook at 

Tonya CoxWith a long history of supporting Best Friends™ approaches in dementia care, Tonya M. Cox, M.S.W., L.N.H.A., currently ensures that training and implementation of Best Friends™ practices are maintained across all care settings for the regional Kentucky-based operator Christian Care Communities in her role as Vice President of Operations. She notably blended the Best Friends approach into a Green House® site as the former Executive Director for The Homeplace at Midway. And before that was Director of Community Based Services for Christian Care, which included overseeing the original Best Friends™ Adult Day Center in Lexington, Kentucky. For more than 15 years Tonya has been developing programs and services for persons with dementia and their caregivers, including working on national curriculum development for professional caregivers in various care settings and serving as Vice President for Mission and Service for the Greater Kentucky/Southern Indiana Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. Tonya presents locally and nationally on activity programming and dementia care. She is a co-author on three of the Best Friends™ books, and contributed to The Best Friends Approach to Dementia Care, Second Edition, with Virginia Bell and David Troxel. She has served as co-chair of the Kentucky Alzheimer’s Disease Advisory Council and is a practicum supervisor for both the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville Kent School of Social Work. Tonya is also Adjunct Professor at Midway University in their Health Care Administration Program.


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