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Developing a New Dementia Toolkit for Effective Communication

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Tony Young


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A growing body of research outlines effective communication involving people with dementia, but little of this has been indexed and made accessible in the form of specific guidance to carers (Young & Manthorp, 2009). This presentation details research which led to the production of a new toolkit (‘DEMTEC’) drawing together best current international practice in effective communicative practices involving people with dementia and their social partners (Young, Manthorp & Howells, 2010). Representatives from stakeholding groups took part in a series of consultation exercises to agree best practice. Participants included people living with dementia, family members, speech and language therapists, communication scholars, psycho-geriatricians, care home workers and managers, and psychiatrists. A three level toolkit was agreed. Level 1 is a statement of foundational beliefs and principles underlying a person-centred and empowering approach to communication with people with dementia, guided by the Communicative Predicament of Aging Model, and by the Communicative Enhancement Model (Barker & Giles, 1986; Hummert et al, 1998; Ryan et al 1986, 1995). Based on this, Level 2 of the toolkit consists of 10 components of effective communication: examples include mindfulness and empathy, non-verbal communication and environmental considerations. Each of these Level 2 components consists of a definition, a rationale for inclusion in the toolkit, and a list of specific strategies and considerations for optimising communication. Level 3 consists of practical and individualised advice on actual communication with people at various stages of dementia in the form of illustrative case studies. The toolkit will facilitate: 1. A cost-effective enhancement of the quality of life for people with dementia. Greater agency, empowerment and reinforcement of identity for individual sufferers and enhanced and better relationships with carers. 2. The establishment of a comprehensive national and international benchmark for effective communication with people living with dementia which is empirically testable and adaptable to different settings and to individual needs. We will also detail our plans for evaluation of training based on adapted versions of the toolkit in different care and sociocultural contexts, and for free-to-all users web-based dissemination (Young, Manthorp, Howells and Tullo, 2011). References Barker, V. & Giles, H.(2003). Integrating the communicative predicament and enhancement of aging models: The case of older Native Americans. Health Communication, 15, 255-275. Hummert, M. L., Shaner, J. L., Garstka, T. A., & Henry, C. (1998). ‘Communication with older adults: The influence of age stereotypes, context, and communicator age.’ Human Communication Research, 25, 124–151. Ryan, E.B., Giles, H., Bartolucci, G. & Henwood, K.(1986). Psycholinguistic and social psychological components of communication by and with older adults. Language and Communication, 6, 1-22. Ryan, E. B., Meredith S. D., MacLean, M. J., & Orange J. B. (1995). ‘Changing the way we talk with older people: Promoting health using the communication enhancement model.’ International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 41, 89–107. Young, T. J. & Manthorp C. (2009). ‘Towards a code of practice for effective communication with people with dementing illnesses.’ Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 28 (2), 174–189. Young, T.J., Manthorp, C. & Howells, D. (2010). Communication and Dementia: New Perspectives, New Approaches. Barcelona: Aresta SA (published in Spanish, Catalan and English). Young, T.J., Manthorp, C., Howells, D., & Tullo, E. (2011). Developing a carer communication intervention to support personhood and quality of life in dementia. Ageing and Society, published online by Cambrige University Press January 18th, 2011. DOI:10.1017/S0144686X10001182.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Young TJ, Manthorp C

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: Dementia Services Information and Development Services, Ireland

Year of Conference: 2011