Professional and personal caregivers of persons with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) receive little or no training with regards to the nature, course and accompanying communication challenges of this illness (Haak, 2003). The main aim of the research study was to investigate the interaction between nursing home staff and persons with AD with in a nursing home context, before and after attending a communication-orientated educational workshop for the nursing home staff. Research was carried out by using multiple single case studies. A pre-experimental design was used as the research method. The four participants’ communication skills (verbal, nonverbal and paralinguistic) were evaluated by using the Pragmatic Protocol (Prutting and Kirchner, 1987). Their listening skills were observed and scored according to the Checklist of listening behaviours (Hartley, 1995). A questionnaire was designed to measure the participants’ knowledge and perceptions of different AD aspects. Various shortcomings were identified in the interaction process which highlights the importance of training staff to become competent in using communication strategies that facilitate more successful interaction with persons with AD. The communication-orientated educational workshop (event of the study) was designed according to the data that was collected and based on the person-centred approach of Kitwood (1997). The participants’ communication and listening skills, knowledge and perceptions were evaluated again in the posttest (after the workshop) to determine whether or not there had been a change in these areas. A general view of all the participants’ results showed that there was a significant change in their communication and listening skills. The interaction process was more appropriate during the posttest in comparison to the results that were obtained in the pretest. The participants’ interaction were based more on the principles of the person-centred approach to dementia care than the pretest. There had been a noticeable increase after the workshop in the participants’ knowledge and change to a more positive perception towards persons with AD and the illness. The conclusion has been reached that attendance and participation in a communication-orientated educational workshop leads to more positive interaction with persons with AD. This study has motivated the need for dementia care that is based on the principles of the person-centred approach. It is suggested that an increase in the person-centred approach leads to improvement in quality of life of persons with AD as well as the decrease of the effect of institutionalization in a nursing home setting. Suggestions for future research include that attention should be given to educational programmes with regards to communication strategies for persons with AD. It has furthermore been suggested to approach managers of nursing homes regarding future inservice training of their nursing home staff.
Dissertation (M(Communication Pathology))--University of Pretoria, 2007.