There were only three studies that looked at the long-term effects of dementia communications training, with mixed results. One reported increased understanding of dementia at six months, one reported increased knowledge of Alzheimer’s at three months – but not at six months – and the third found significant increase in the use of the taught strategies at 24 weeks but not at 16 weeks’ post intervention.
Following the review, we expect that Empowered Conversations will give rise to long term impact because we found that trainings that were effective in improving knowledge and skills involved active participation by carers and were generally skills based. These commonly included practicing skills and discussion.
The review suggests that future research needs to consider the long-term impact of training packages – we will be evaluating the Empowered Conversations approach three months after attendees have completed the course. In future studies we intend to evaluate longer-term effects. We are using a specific measure of communication skills as this was lacking in a number of the studies reviewed.
The review is open access and is available to download at http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13607863.2017.1399343