Dementia can affect language processing and production, making communication more difficult. This creates challenges for including the person’s perspective in research and service evaluation. This study aims to identify methods, tools and approaches that could facilitate meaningful communication with people with moderate-to-severe dementia and support the inclusion of their perspectives.
This qualitative study was conducted as part of the IDEAL programme and involved in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 17 dementia research and/or care professionals with expertise in communication. Transcripts were analysed using framework analysis.
Three main themes each with sub-themes were identified: (1) Awareness, knowledge and experience; (2) Communication approach and (3) Personalization. A person-centred orientation based on getting to know the participant and developing a bi-directional exchange formed the fundamental context for effective communication. Building on this foundation, an approach using pictures, photographs or objects that are meaningful to the person and appropriate for that person’s preferences and ability could help to facilitate conversations. The findings were integrated into a diagram illustrating how the topics covered by the themes interrelate to facilitate communication.
Useful skills and approaches were identified to help researchers engage and work with people with moderate-to-severe dementia and ensure their perspective is included. These covered getting to know the participant, using a variety of tangible tools and interactional techniques and considering the environment and context of the conversation.
Collins R, Hunt A, Quinn C, Martyr A, Pentecost C, Clare L. Methods and approaches for enhancing communication with people with moderate-to-severe dementia that can facilitate their inclusion in research and service evaluation: Findings from the IDEAL programme. Dementia. February 2022. doi:10.1177/14713012211069449