We are always looking at ways to further support family carers, those people living with dementia, and professional carers, and our new pilot project ‘Moving Beyond Words’ is the next training course that we will be adding to the Empowered Conversation package of resources – something we are really excited to share.

Ironically, there had been much ‘talk’ about the possibility of offering a course that focusses on non-verbal communication to assist those people who, as dementia progresses, can experience a breakdown of their verbal communication skills often resulting in social isolation.

The first steps we took with this was to introduce Empowered Movement – led by Clare Tallis. Clare brought a wealth of experience in physiotherapy and yoga, and of dementia – professionally and personally (having a mum with vascular dementia).

This programme was a natural progression from the Empowered Conversations foundation course focusing on improving mobility, flexibility, strength and balance, engaging with both the person living with dementia and their care partner.

It then seemed the perfect time to introduce a further course covering how to communicate with people with dementia without using words. And so, with the help of our experienced facilitators Margaret Garner, Barbara Lewis and Clare, Moving Beyond Words came to life.

We are also delighted that dementia expert and academic Dr Maggie Ellis is working with the Empowered Conversations team on the Moving Beyond Words programme. She has a wealth of knowledge on how to communicate without speech, aimed at helping those with advanced dementia and says the skills we are born with as babies – and long before we talk – are skills that remain even after we are no longer able to communicate verbally.

Here Margaret tells us more about the programme and the success of the pilot project:

“Moving Beyond Words explores how we can use non-verbal communication – especially sounds and movements – to support our relationships and wellbeing, and we look more deeply at the creative ways we can stay connected without relying on speech so a person with dementia can stay connected or reconnect to a social world when they can no longer use words.

“All of our courses were face to face before covid restrictions but as this course came into fruition during the pandemic it has only ever been run via Zoom, which has worked well and does have its advantages – so we will explore both options now the world is opening up to life after lockdown. On the first pilot we’ve had five participants and three facilitators which seems to be an ideal number.

“We find with all our courses, participants often build camaraderie with each other as they don’t have to explain to each other where they are coming from in terms of what they are going through – and there’s absolutely no judgement. They can be a real support to one another.

“The course has been very well received so far. Some of the comments we’ve received include things like ‘I feel like we have a way in now and that they have a way out’, and, ‘Like finding a key to a mystery locked box’,  or, ‘It’s inspired me to think of different ways to connect and have a ‘conversation’, as well as ‘Makes you realise communication is not all about words’.  Such powerful messages.”

The team is now looking forward to continuing to develop the programme with the invaluable support of Dr Maggie Ellis for the benefit of professionals, family carers and people living in Greater Manchester and beyond.

For more information on all of our courses click here.