Authors: Olthof-Nefkens MWLJ, Derksen EWC, Debets F, de Swart BJM, Nijhuis-van der Sanden MWG, Kalf JG
Title: Com-mens: A Home-Based Logopaedic Intervention Program for Communication Problems between People with Dementia and Their Caregivers — A Single-Group Mixed-Methods Pilot Study
Source: International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders 2023 58(3): 704-722
Year: 2023
Research Design: Case Series

Background: Communication difficulties are common in people with dementia, and often present from an early stage. However, direct treatment options for people with dementia that positively influence their daily communication are scarce. Aims: To evaluate the potential impact and feasibility of a personalized logopaedic intervention. Methods & Procedures: A total of 40 community-dwelling persons with dementia and their caregivers were recruited. Five experienced speech and language therapists (SLTs) delivered the six-session Com-mens intervention at home. Com-mens aims to improve positive communication between people with dementia and their primary caregivers and comprises five elements: interactive history-taking, dynamic observational assessment, education about the consequences of dementia on communication, development and use of personalized communication tools, use motivational, and person-centred strategies by the SLT. We conducted a single-group mixed-methods pilot study with five measurements: baseline, directly after intervention, and at 3, 6 and 9 months follow-up. Semi-structured interviews and questionnaires for Experienced Communication in Dementia, quality of life, psychological well-being and caregiver burden were conducted. Process evaluation was performed by interviewing participants, drop-outs, SLTs and other stakeholders. Outcomes & Results: A total of 32 dyads completed the intervention. Repeated measures analyses revealed no significant changes over time. In the interviews, participants reported a positive impact on their feelings, increased communication skills and better coping with the diagnosis. Participants would recommend the intervention to others. Facilitators were timely delivery, personalized content and adequate reimbursement. Barriers were unfamiliarity with Com-mens among referrers, an overburdened caregiver or disrupted family relationships. Conclusions & Implications: This newly developed logopaedic intervention is feasible and has a perceived positive impact on both people with dementia and their caregivers, which is confirmed by a stable pattern over a period of 1 year. Future comparative studies are needed to test the effectiveness of personalized interventions in this patient population.

Access: Open Access