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Dementia Education Online
 
 

Module 3: Communication in Dementia Care

 

ii. Effective Communication Strategies


Aim

The aim of this content focus area is to provide an overview of the importance of using effective communication strategies in dementia care.

Outcome

By the end of this content focus area, students will be able to list behaviours that enhance communication between the health care practitioner and the person with dementia

Effective Communication Strategies in Dementia

Morris (n.d. [1]) argues that "having a conversation with someone with dementia can be a difficult undertaking" because when the person with dementia does not communicate in ways with which the health care practitioner is familiar, the health care practitioner may experience feelings of "anxiety and frustration" and consequently try to manage these unpleasant feelings by using a range of stress reducing techniques which may not always be appropriate (Morris, [1]). Additionally, it is important to note that the clinical context may not promote effective communication. For example, employing effective communication strategies with a person with dementia may be particularly challenging in situations where the health care practitioner has to address a number of responsibilities within a given timeframe. With this in mind, it is important that the health care practitioner is aware of the reasons that may make it difficult for the person with dementia to communicate, and to be highly responsive and creative in using subsequent communication strategies. This approach to communication in dementia care should be continued as the person with dementia finds it increasingly difficult to communicate and the use of "warm, accepting human contact through non-verbal channels" (Brooker, 2003, [2]) remains essential in order to promote the personhood and dignity of the individual.

Activity 2: Communication Strategies Quiz

Please now access the references listed below and answer the following questions:


Question 1 : Outline strategies that could be used to promote effective communication with the person with dementia.

Answer:


Submit

Answers: Maintain a caring attitude; use appropriate body language that shows you are interested in the person and what they have to say; promote the dignity and self esteem of the person with dementia by listening attentively and responding in a respectful and non-patronising manner; listen carefully to what is being said and observe non-verbal communication as this could aid your understanding of the meaning behind the conversation; use short and simple sentences and focus on communicating only one idea at a time; provide adequate time for the person with dementia to take in what you are saying; provide appropriate cues to names or places to orientate the person with dementia; maintain a calm and non-distracting physical environment that is conducive to communication; regularly evaluate and document communication strategies so that all members of the care team maintain a consistent approach.

Resource: [1 & 3]

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Question 2 : How significant is the use of body language by health care practitioners when interacting with the person with dementia?

Answer:


Submit

Answers: Body language is extremely important as it forms a very large part of the communication process. Negative body language such as frowning and showing impatience can be easily perceived by the person with dementia.

Resource: [3]

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Question 3 : What communication styles should be avoided by the health care practitioner when caring for a person with dementia?

Answer:


Submit

Answers: Arguing with the person with dementia; ordering the person with dementia to do something; tell the person with dementia what they can not do; "talking down" to the person with dementia or infantalising them; posing a lot of direct questions that require a good memory to answer; talk about the person with dementia as though they were not present

Resource: [1 & 3]

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Question 4 : In our day to day communication with others what is the proportion of non-verbal communication?

      7%       38%       55%       Submit

Correct answer: 55%

Resource: [3]

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References and Resources

  1. Morris…??

  2. Brooker, D 2003, ‘What is person-centred care in dementia?’, Reviews in Clinical Gerontology, Vol.13, Issue. 3, pp 215-222.

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