Facilitating conversations between individuals with dementia and their main conversational partner

Project Description:

Communication between a person with dementia and their significant communication partner can be difficult.  A reduced ability to interact causes stress and frustration for the communication partner and the loss of sense of self in the person with dementia.

To avoid declines in communication it is imperative to identify factors that facilitate or hinder communication.  If we identify these conversational behaviours, we can develop individualised ways to maintain conversation, therefore enhancing engagement between the communication partner and the person with dementia. To do so will improve the quality of life for both the person with dementia and their communication partner.

Stage One of this project will involve identifying communication behaviours produced by the communication partner that facilitate conversation (e.g. positive affirmations) and those that are barriers to communication (e.g. allowing insufficient time for turns to talk). To identify behaviours video recordings of conversations between the communication partner and the individual with dementia will be obtained at weekly intervals over 4 weeks.

Stage Two will involve development of an interaction-focused intervention approach where the clinician and the communication partner engage in direct discussion about behaviours observed followed by self-evaluation by the communication partner. Conversational behaviours will be modified through modelling.

Funding Body:

Massey University

Date Range:


Project Team:

Associate Professor Helen  Southwood

Annabel Grant, Clinical Educator

Ben Matthews

Alicia Posthuma

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