Authors: Genereux S, Julien M, Larfeuil C, Lavoie V, Soucy O, Le Dorze G
Title: Using communication plans to facilitate interactions with communication-impaired persons residing in long-term care institutions
Source: Aphasiology 2004 18(12): 1161-1175
Year: 2004
Research Design: Case Series

BACKGROUND: A large proportion of residents in long-term care institutions present severe and chronic communication disorders that may not respond well to therapy focused on improving language and speech. Moreover, given the ecological relevance of considering communication in situations of interaction, speech-language intervention could aim at facilitating interactions with those residents by informing caregivers about the residents' specific characteristics and communication disorders. AIMS: The aims of the present research were (1) to elaborate a Communication Plan that contained information about a resident's specific characteristics and communication disorder, and (2) to evaluate the effects of Communication Plans by considering the point of view of the resident's caregivers. METHODS AND PROCEDURES: In three long-term care institutions, 10 residents (between the ages of 63 and 95 years) who had severe aphasia or communication impairment, and 39 professional and non-professional caregivers attending to these residents, were recruited. An individual Communication Plan for each resident was constructed employing the results of speech-language and communication evaluations. Before and after these Communication Plans were used, participant caregivers completed a questionnaire designed to measure communication and interactions with residents. OUTCOMES AND RESULTS: A qualitative and quantitative analysis of the results indicated that after using Communication Plans, professional and non-professional caregivers felt more comfortable in communicating with residents, were more knowledgeable about communication characteristics of a given resident, and employed more facilitating strategies in communicating with residents. They perceived Communication Plans as being clear, complete, easy to use, and adapted to their needs with communication-impaired residents. CONCLUSIONS: The use of Communication Plans is an appropriate speech-language pathology tool, which may enable caregivers to adjust their manner of communicating to the specific needs of a given person residing in a long-term care unit. It is possible that Communication Plans helped caregivers become more skilled communicators with communication-impaired persons.

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