The number of people living with dementia is increasing as our population increases and delivering relevant and timely services can be a challenge. Group intervention provides a method of delivering services to a larger number of people and can have the added benefit of delivering emotional and social support and genuine practice opportunities. Delivering speech and language therapy to people with language led dementia, also known as primary progressive aphasia (PPA), can be challenging as there is little research evidence on the effectiveness of interventions for this group of people with the majority focused on naming and word retrieval tasks in individual therapy sessions. This article describes the development and delivery of an innovative group intervention for people with PPA and their communication partners. Five people with a diagnosis of PPA were recruited to the study with six of their communication partners (one son and father attended together). The people with PPA and their communication partners were paired with a speech and language clinician to complete the mode of communication survey before and after the intervention. The intervention was delivered twice weekly, for one hour, over six weeks. Communication partners only attended the second session each week. Each week a new mode of communication was introduced such as use of a communication book or scripts and practised the exercises with their assigned clinician and their communication partners. These modes were chosen based on effective strategies from aphasia and dementia literature. Results demonstrated that participants reported increases in the number and variety of communication modes used, as well as increased confidence and a more positive personal identity. This novel treatment study provides useful preliminary data to support further research, as well as indicating that clinical application of group interventions for people with language led dementias is feasible and worthwhile. Whilst this is not a full scale randomised controlled trial, this study provides useful preliminary data to guide speech and language therapists in developing their services in this emerging field. In view of the lack of research evidence in this field, it is invaluable that these types of projects are published and made available to speech and language therapists working in clinical practice. 

Group communication treatment for individuals with PPA and their partners.
Mooney A, Beale N, Fried-Oken M.
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Anna Volkmer

UCL, London, UK.

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