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Optimizing communication between medical professionals and people living with dementia

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Tony Young, Dr Ellen Tullo



Background: A growing body of research evidence indicates that improving communication with people living with dementia (PLWD) has a positive effect on their quality of life. Policy initiatives internationally highlight prevalent poor communication practices in care environments in general and medical contexts in particular as priority areas for improvement. Currently available communication interventions exhibit shortcomings, and their application remains unusual. Method: A spectrum of multidisciplinary professional and lay stakeholders, including PLWD, took part in an iterative consultation process in the United Kingdom. This aimed to develop a communications advice package which would meet their needs, and involved observation of practice in a variety of care contexts and semi-structured focus group and individual interviews. Results: Lay participants reported dissatisfaction with current communicative practices, particularly during contact with medical professionals. Both lay and professional participants reported general dissatisfaction with currently available communication advice. An agreed version of a dementia toolkit for effective communication (‘DEMTEC’) was produced. This consists of three ‘levels’. The foundation Level 1 details beliefs about the psycho-social effects of dementia on communication, as well as empowering approaches to communication involving PLWD. Level 2 consists of practical considerations and advice in 8 key areas. Level 3 uses case studies to show how the principles and advice in preceding levels are applicable to individuals in different care contexts and at different stages of dementia. Conclusion: The project has produced a free-to-users instrument that is empirically supported and adaptable to individual PLWD and to a range of health, care and sociocultural environments.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Young TJ, Manthorp C, Howells D, Tullo E

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Psychogeriatrics

Year: 2011

Volume: 23

Issue: 7

Pages: 1078-1085

Print publication date: 09/03/2011

Date deposited: 08/03/2011

ISSN (print): 1041-6102

ISSN (electronic): 1741-203X

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.1017/S1041610211000652


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