Awarded in partnership with Dementia Australia Research Foundation (DARF)
University of Technology Sydney, Graduate School of Health
Naomi Folder is a PhD candidate in the Graduate School of Health at University of Technology Sydney, and works as a speech pathologist in the Illawarra health district. With her research team across University of Technology Sydney and University of Sydney, Naomi is working to modify an existing communication partner training program for traumatic brain injury, “TBI Connect”, and tailor this program to dementia through co-creation with people living with dementia and their families. She is a passionate advocate for communication intervention and support for all people living with dementia, and for the important role of speech pathology in improving social connection, conversation, and quality of life.
Project: Dementia Connect: Adaptation and Co-Creation of a Communication Partner Training Program for Families of People with Dementia
Project summary: Communication impairments are the most challenging symptom for families of people with dementia, linked to depression, distress, expressions of unmet needs, and reduced quality of life (Braun et al., 2010). The Clinical Practice Guidelines for People with Dementia (NHMRC, 2016) recommend families have access to evidence-based communication partner training (CPT) programs. However, current CPT programs do not meet this criterion, either being inaccessible to consumers or have limited evidence behind their use (Nguyen et al., 2018; Morris et al., 2018).Families need accessible and evidence-based CPT to improve daily conversations and address these negative outcomes. Our research question is: can an existing CPT program for people with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), be adapted to dementia? We aim to co-create a CPT program with people with dementia, families, health professionals, and other stakeholders, through adaptation of an existing and evidence-based CPT program 'TBI Connect' (Togher et al., 2013; Rietdijk et al., 2020; Behn et al., 2021). Given the many overlaps in communication strategies recommended for dementia and TBI (O'Rourke et al., 2018), using a high-quality example of an existing CPT program for TBI provides an initial reference point to support co-creation of a dementia-specific resource. Stakeholders will be interviewed on their communication experiences, and what they need from a CPT program. They will then evaluate 'TBI Connect' and collaborate as joint decision makers on required changes and modifications. The end-product will be 'Dementia Connect', a co-created CPT program for families of people with dementia.