There is a real need for guidance on effective communication to help everyone touched by dementia – for people living with the condition as well as for those caring for them. The Dementia Toolkit for Effective Communication (DEMTEC) aims to help people to improve communication, in both formal settings (such as care homes and hospitals) and informal settings (their own homes).
DEMTEC has been shaped over a two-year consultation process that has taken place in the UK and elsewhere, and represents a collaboration between the Alzheimer's Society, Dr Tony Young of SECLS, Dr David Howells, a psychiatrist with the Cardiff and vale NHS Trust, and Chris Manthorp, CEO of the Epic Trust. They have asked for the views, ideas and experiences of people living with dementia and their carers during this consultation. The contributions of all those involved have stressed that there is an urgent need for such a resource that will both inform and reassure. The input of professionals from many fields, including care-home managers, speech and language therapists, nurses, psychiatrists and psychologists, have complemented the input of people living with dementia and their carers. We have also drawn on the growing body of research evidence in the theoretical and professional literatures.
DEMTEC pulls together all the elements gathered during the consultation process and aims to enable people to use simple, accessible strategies with which to improve communication. It has a three-level structure. Level 1 is a statement of principles underlying a person-centred approach to communication and people living with dementia. Level 2 offers specific guidance on communication considerations and strategies. level 3 gives examples of how DEMTEC might be put into practice in a variety of care settings. It is hoped that DEMTEC will be trialled early in 2010.