Improving Care Interactions With People With Dementia Researcher Natalie Douglas seeks to help long-term care staff communicate effectively with elders with dementia. Foundational Questions
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Foundational Questions  |   May 01, 2018
Improving Care Interactions With People With Dementia
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Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Foundational Questions
Foundational Questions   |   May 01, 2018
Improving Care Interactions With People With Dementia
The ASHA Leader, May 2018, Vol. 23, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.FQ.23052018.np
The ASHA Leader, May 2018, Vol. 23, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.FQ.23052018.np
ASHFoundation funding: 2016 New Investigators Research Grant
What is the focus of your research?
My work aims to empower health care teams to provide best practices for communication with older adults living in long-term care environments through implementation science methodologies. Specifically, we’re looking into how to improve the lives of people with dementia in long-term care communities by coaching staff to improve communication with these residents.
How did your award from the ASHFoundation lead to your current work?
Receiving the New Investigator’s grant helped me to obtain critical data to support the scale up of positive communication interventions for older adults living in long-term care settings.
What do you hope to demonstrate through your research—or what has it already demonstrated?
My data has suggested that certified nursing assistants are eager to improve their communication with older adults with dementia, but they have not been trained to do so. My data has also indicated that a coaching model to train certified nursing assistants (CNAs) to improve their communication with people with dementia in long-term care is not only feasible, but also results in sustained, observable behavior changes. For example, CNAs in the study improved their abilities to approach residents from the front, smile, greet the resident by name, introduce themselves and the care activity, and use an external memory aid to further support the care activity. CNAs’ input into the design of these positive communication interventions has been a critical piece to the coaching process, and they also reported that completing activities of daily living with residents, such as showering and feeding, were easier.
Why did you choose this particular research focus?
My work is based on my career as a practicing speech-language pathologist for 10 years in long-term care settings prior to starting a research career. Long-term care environments are notoriously challenging, and I noticed a large gap between what we know is best practice in research settings and what actually happens, largely due to organizational constraints. A research career equipped me with tools to study and attempt to improve some of these factors. There is a lot of potential to provide dignified, meaningful care to a vulnerable population in this setting.
How has ASHFoundation funding affected your professional life?
The ASHFoundation has provided me with critical support to achieve these research objectives, support that I would not have had otherwise. It has served as a springboard for other projects and funding possibilities. It has additionally helped me connect and establish relationships with other researchers in our profession.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
May 2018
Volume 23, Issue 5