Person Centred Communication Group Work

What was the issue you were addressing or working on?

This case study highlights the use of additional AHP support which was provided to community service users through the use of Change Fund resources.

A man with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease was referred to Speech & Language Therapy.  He was experiencing word finding difficulties as his primary symptom and felt frustrated.  I visited him at home and heard many stories about his life travelling the world with the army.  His wife supported his conversation skills.  Denis clearly demonstrated a passion for the topic and was motivated to communicate. I was already working with another man, John, following his stroke.  His speech was non- fluent with long hesitations as he struggled to retrieve the word.  He had also travelled the world with the army and was interested in sharing his experiences in therapy.  Both gentlemen lacked the vocabulary to discuss their past easily with a new conversation partner.  Both gentlemen were frustrated by their difficulties and felt increasingly passive. It transpired that both men held the same rank in the army (Warrant Officer 2).  I knew little about this rank and their progression to this position.  I asked them if they would be interested in working together and they agreed.

What you did?

A group approached was used to build conversation confidence, develop personalised word-finding strategies and create a time-line of vocabulary that could be accessed in conversations out-with the group for 2 gentlemen with similar interests.

Each week we chose a specific rank of their army career.  With some background Internet research, a selection of words and images targeting places visited, regiment names, duties and uniform was created.  Each group member selected the items relevant to his life and we plotted this on a time line that grew each week.  By the end of the group, we had plotted their army career and both men had a time-line poster to take away and use as a core vocabulary.


What were the outcomes - benefits or otherwise?

This group was the first of its type and served as a pilot idea for SLT working with dementia.  Anecdotal feedback from both men’s partners indicated that they looked forward to attending each week.  They also reported that Denis and John felt supported by each other and were encouraged to attempt strategies in the safety of the group.  Although they did not develop specific strategies that they carried over into other conversations, they used their poster in army conversations in future. Denis summed up his experience in his own words,  ‘ I never thought there was anything up there (points to head) but when I come here and do this, there is something up there.  There must be’.

Contacts - to find out more

Lesley Cassidy, 01382426085