Social beings

Our research How it beganBenefitsTips

We live in a world full of social beings; people thrive through interaction with others. We talk to each other, look at and laugh with each other. We connect with ourselves, and with the world in which we live, through each other. But as communication and relationships change with dementia, some interactions begin to feel more awkward or frustrating.

Our Toolkit helps create a world where interactions are not pressured and where communication happens more easily in a variety of ways. This has been developed over many years.

When in the presence of another person, people are almost always interacting in some way, and this interaction is done through communication of some form (Glaeser and Scheinkman 2001), which is why it is so important to recognise that people, no matter their age, ability, or diagnosis, can communicate.

When a person is diagnosed with dementia, we know that some cognitive functions may deteriorate as their condition progresses. This can include word confusion, loss of nouns, or misunderstanding sentences. So whilst a person may be unable to communicate particularly well through speech, it does not mean that they cannot communicate. It simply means that a person must find alternate methods of doing so (Dockrell and Messer, 1999).

It is a common misconception that communication must be verbal. This is not the case. As people lose cognitive functions, their need to connect through creativity is more enhanced. As people with dementia lose the ability to name things they are forced into much more visual ways of thinking about the world (Miller 2004)

Sadly, in many situations, it is assumed – especially in the mid and later stages of dementia- that a person cannot contribute much to a conversation, or be part of social situation because they do not, or cannot use speech as their main form of communication (Purves, 2014). This assumption has been closely linked to depression in people living with dementia, as they are often excluded from social situations (Alzheimer’s Care Today, 2007).

However, we know from years of research that our Toolkit addresses all these issues. The Toolkit is based on twenty years professional care experience in improving mental wellbeing through creativity, including ten years of working with people with dementia and their carers (in care and family settings) always asking: What works? What does not work? and Why?

Communication and interaction are extremely important. The lack of this has been picked up in many dementia care facilities. We have found many benefits to interacting, and you too can promote these benefits simply by being with, and positively interacting with someone living with dementia. Click here for some of the benefits.

Our research

How the toolkit began

Benefits of interacting

Tips for non-verbal communication

Some references for our research


Creative communication with and without words