Dementia - communication
In this page you will find resources that will help you to improve communication in dementia care.
In other sections of this website you can also:
- familiarise yourself with the UK national strategies and standards
- develop your skills and knowledge with resources designed for learning
- find details of key agencies and networks.
The resources below were last accessed on 6 August 2014. Some of them are in PDF format - see how to access PDF files.
Resources and tools
Alzheimer's Society factsheet: Communicating
This is one of a series of factsheets provided on the Alzheimer's Society website and provides tips on communicating with someone with dementia.
Brief Encounters - patients with dementia
Being in hospital is always a difficult time for patients. However, for some it can also be very distressing and emotionally traumatic. Many general hospitals have a mental health liaison team who can advise and support staff and patients. Brief Encounters can provide additional ideas and information to help staff. This section looks at caring for and communicating with people with dementia.
BUPA (2012) Talking toolkit
This toolkit contains advice from the BUPA dementia care experts and first hand tips from carers in in their care homes on how best to engage and connect with relatives and friends living with dementia.
Dementia Partnerships: Communication tips for dementia caregivers
One of the resources highlighted within the portal which provides access to a range of education and learning resources on dementia.
The DEMtalk toolkit is designed to help people living with dementia and their carers by setting out simple advice about communication. The website avoids complex language and is easy to use offering advice and stories about people living and communicating with dementia. DEMtalk believes that people living with dementia have a right to control over their own lives, that communication helps to offer that control and that thinking clearly about how it is approached helps everyone involved.
Flinders University: Come into my world: how to interact with a person who has dementia
The purpose of this Australian educational resource is to illustrate that by using a more person-centred care approach, undergraduate healthcare students can improve both the quality of their practice and the wellbeing of the person with dementia. The educational resource consists of a multidisciplinary DVD with a supporting workbook based on the work of Professor Tom Kitwood (1997) and Professor Dawn Brooker (2007).
NHS Dumfries and Galloway: Communication and Mealtimes Toolkit Helping people with dementia to eat, drink & communicate. A guide for carers (PDF 7.8MB)
The toolkit is in two sections, focussing on communication, and then on eating and drinking. Unsuccessful mealtimes often reflect a breakdown in communication and the way food is given and eaten can be a means of communication in its own right. The emphasis throughout the toolkit is on centering care around the person with dementia, which relies on knowing as much about them as possible. Care plan check lists are provided in each section, with examples, to help carers look at how they can put the advice in to practice with each individual.
Nursing Standard articles
The full text of the articles can be accessed via RCN ejournals.
- Blackhall A et al (2011) VERA framework: communicating with people who have dementia. Nursing Standard 26(10) 9 November pp.35-39.
- Jootun D, McGhee G (2011) Effective communication with people who have dementia. Nursing Standard 25(25) 23 February pp.40-46.
Open Dementia Programme: Module 7: Positive communication
This programme aims to be interactive and accessible to a wide audience. It includes the views and experiences of people with dementia and their carers.
RCN Principles of Nursing Practice
Principle E: Nurses and nursing staff are at the heart of the communication process: they assess, record and report on treatment and care, handle information sensitively and confidentially, deal with complaints effectively, and are conscientious in reporting the things they are concerned about. Details of RCN resources to support improved communication are at Principle E.
SCIE Dementia gateway: Getting to know the person with dementia
This section of the Dementia Gateway which brings together tools, activities and practical tips includes areas on: using positive memories and feelings to engage people; Skills to improve communication with people with dementia; working with families particularly when a family member moves into a care home; communication in advanced dementia.
Talking Mats is a communication framework which has become an established communication tool. It uses a mat with pictures and symbols attached as a basis for communication and is designed “to help people with communication difficulties to think about issues discussed with them, and provide them with a way to effectively express their opinions”. It enables information to be presented in small chunks supported by symbols. From this page you can access a clip of a man with dementia using Talking Mats. You can also download a copy of the Talking Mats brochure.
See also resources about using life stories to aid the communication process. Life story resources are available at Therapeutic activities.
For elevant standard statements and associated guidance see:
NICE quality standards: Dementia standard
See statement 3.
Scottish Government: Standards of care for dementia in Scotland
As a person with dementia:
I have the right to be regarded as a unique individual and to be treated with dignity and respect.
For overarching resources and resources on other specific aspects of care see Supporting people with dementia.