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Suzanne Beeke - The VOICE study: Developing and evaluating evidence-based communication skills training to enhance acute healthcare encounters between staff and people with dementia

Dr Suzanne Beeke is an associate professor in the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences at University College London, and a qualified speech and language therapist. Her research focuses on communication disability in adults with post-stroke aphasia, traumatic brain injury, and dementia, particularly the impact of these conditions on everyday conversations in the home and on healthcare interactions. She led the team that developed Better Conversations with Aphasia (@BCAphasia), a free e-learning resource and communication training programme for SLTs to use with people with aphasia and family members ( She was part of the Nottingham-based NIHR HR&DS funded VOICE Study, which developed communication training for healthcare professionals interacting with people with dementia on acute hospital wards (@voice_study).

Suzanne Beeke's talk will be in English.

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Twenty five percent of hospital beds are occupied by a person living with dementia (PLWD). Difficulties with communication are common and can make delivering care difficult. Health care professionals (HCPs) report lack of communication skills training (CST) in this area. We videotaped 41 encounters between 27 HCPs and 26 PLWD, and used conversation analysis to understand where problems arose, and how skilled practitioners overcame them. Particular problems were found during HCP requests (patients often refused) and the 'closing' phase at the end of an encounter. Agreement was more likely where requests were direct, made with high entitlement, and lowered contingencies. Closings were more successful if the HCP announced the end of a task, made a specific arrangement, and matched body language to speech. We used these insights to design a 2-day CST course using multiple teaching methods including simulated patients. Forty five staff attended from two hospitals. Evaluation included measuring knowledge and confidence before, immediately after and 1 month later. Communication was measured using blind-rated videos of before and after simulations. Knowledge and confidence both increased. Some behaviours, especially around closings, were more frequent after training. The course was highly-rated by participants, including simulation, real-life videos, and interdisciplinary learning.

Published May 11, 2021 3:56 PM - Last modified May 11, 2021 3:56 PM