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Improving healthcare language used for people with dementia can deliver better person-centred care

Research by Bangor University and Cardiff and Vale University Health Board has found that improving the language used in written case notes can result in better care for people living with dementia.

Dr Ian Davies-Abbott at Bangor University led a project to improve the understanding of how language used in healthcare settings impacts the delivery of person-centred care for people living with dementia.

Working in collaboration with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, the team used dementia care mapping to empower people living with dementia, their families and/or carers, and healthcare staff to share their perceptions of positive language.

The research project complements the wider work of Improvement Cymru and Welsh Government, and the Dementia Friendly Hospital Charter for Wales.

The findings will be used to shape the development and implementation of a ‘dementia friendly’ language tool.

Dr Ian Davies-Abbott, Lecturer in Healthcare Sciences (Mental Health Nursing) at Bangor University, said: “Our research found case note language about people living with dementia can be improved through clear and simple guidance.

“The results suggest that improved written language may also result in the delivery of better person-centred care.

“This research will be used to create user-friendly language guidance about people living with dementia which can be used in any health or social care setting.”

The team analysed case note entries and observations of practice across three mental health wards, which specialise in the care of people living with dementia, across three data collection points over ten months. Staff were provided with case note language guidance to see if this influenced how they wrote about people living with dementia. Researchers looked at all the results to see whether there was a link between what was written in the case notes and the delivery of person-centred care.

Dr Mark Griffiths, Innovation Lead at Improvement Cymru, said: “This innovative research demonstrates how people living with dementia and their families can receive improved care.

“Providing person-centred care through user-friendly language supports the work we are doing in Improvement Cymru to make Wales dementia friendly through the All-Wales Dementia Care Pathway of Standards.”

The research is one of a pair of research projects funded by Improvement Cymru in June 2022, aiming to deliver improvements and innovation in health and care delivery.

The funding was awarded in line with the priorities in Improvement Cymru’s ‘Achieving Quality and Safety Improvement’ strategy, which aims to support the creation of the best quality health and care system for Wales so that everyone has access to safe, effective and reliable care in the right place and at the right time across the whole care system.

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