New Interactive tools to bridge the communication gap between people with Dementia and their professional carers or family
Pleasanton, CA and London, UK – Friday 6th December 2013 – Toolwire today announced that Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance has launched a new range of online Learning tools to help users develop essential skills in communicating with people living with Dementia. The series of digital media simulations called “Let’s Talk” provides professional carers and family or friends to immerse themselves in real life situations and to see first-hand the results of their decisions or actions.
Let’s Talk provides emotional context to the textual or factual information about Dementia. It addresses issues such as using the correct body language, how to position yourself when speaking to someone with Dementia and how best to communicate to determine a more positive outcome with every day activities. The tool is accessible for free through The Learning Location website which is open to individual carers, families, professional staff and organisations looking for relevant information, guides and training support.
Willie Cruickshank, Director at Norfolk & Suffolk Dementia Alliance, comments, “Knowing how to communicate appropriately with people living with Dementia is at the very heart of providing truly person-centred care. All too often it is simple failures in communication that lead to the frustration that can often occur for many carers and families – and more importantly for people living with Dementia who become distressed and agitated at being constantly misunderstood.”
Most people living with Dementia experience significant loss of short term and recent memory function during the progression of their illness and those affected will often only be left with long term memories from their early adulthood as the context for their ‘here and now’. This period of powerful, long term memory is laid down during a phase of life known as the “reminiscence bump”. The reminiscence bump typically occurs between the ages of 17 - 30 and is why many people living with Dementia associate names and events from their past with those of the present day.
Dementia Alliance partner ‘Many Happy Returns’ are also involved in helping to bridge the communication gap through the development of a free reminiscence app. Available from the iTunes store, the app supports users of the “Let’s Talk” tools by providing a collection of carefully selected images and information from the 40s or 50s to help facilitate interaction, communication and aid a better connection.
Cruickshank adds, “Academic research has shown that in order to improve learning transfer into practice and improve standards of care we need to be providing more than just factual training. Experiential Learning and the emotional component plays an essential role in a successful blended learning solution. The Government has committed to ensuring that all NHS staff that look after patients with dementia will receive foundation level dementia training and online tools, like “Let’s Talk”, will be a highly effective component in any blended learning solution developed to deliver on that specific need.”
John Valencia, CEO at Toolwire, adds, “Traditionally, organisations have delivered learning experiences through the use of scenario-based role-plays in which students train by practicing critical skills with their peers and instructors instead of working directly with clients. This approach, however, is challenging to scale and can lack consistency in delivery. Online Experiential Learning immerses participants in authentic situations that are both scalable and reusable. These multi-branching interactive stories enable learners to pursue personalised journeys and deliver learning outcomes more naturally than is possible with other forms of traditional e-learning. Crucially, these scenarios enable learners to practise applying new information and skills and learn from their mistakes in safe online environments. Ultimately this means a better outcome for everyone.”
One in three people over the age of 65 will develop Dementia. In the UK in 2012, there were 850,000 people diagnosed to have dementia – which is the equivalent to the total population of Norfolk. With a rapidly aging population, this number is predicted to double in the next 30 years.
The Let's Talk trials have proven to be extremely positive and the tool has been successfully shortlisted for External Learning Solution of the Year in the 2014 Learning Awards.