Joint decision making using Talking Mats (summary)

Talking Mats

Background It is important for people with dementia to be involved in discussions and decisions about their care, but it is often difficult for these people and their carers to discuss their preferences about activities of daily living.

Studies have shown many people with dementia are able to use Talking Mats to support their communication.

What was the aim of the study? The aim was to explore whether Talking Mats could help people with dementia and family carers feel more involved in decisions about managing their daily living than using their usual communication methods.

What did the authors do? 18 pairs of participants, each a person with dementia and their family carer, were identified as fitting the criteria for taking part in the study.

Topics for discussion were identified and options within these were converted into symbols for use with Talking Mats.

The 4 main topics were: personal care, getting around, housework and activities.

The pairs of participants were asked to discuss the topics on two separate occasions, under two different conditions, using their usual method of communication and using Talking Mats, with the researcher facilitating by asking open ended questions.

Each time the pairs were asked to agree whether the person with dementia was 'managing', 'needed assistance' or was 'not managing' each of the options within the topics.

The Talking Mats were photographed at the end of each session, to provide a record of the discussion, and the interviews were videoed for analysis.

After the interviews each individual participant completed a short questionnaire to say how involved they felt in each type of discussion.

All participants felt significantly more involved and satisfied with the discussions using Talking Mats than their usual method of communication. This was particularly significant for the carers.

There were several benefits felt by all participants from the use of Talking Mats.

Cautions: There were only a small number of participants in the study and therefore the findings cannot necessarily be generalised to a wider population.

Conclusions: The use of Talking Mats could be a valuable tool in helping people with dementia think about and express their views about their daily life and be involved in decisions about their care.

Things you may want to look into:

Using the WHO-ICF with Talking Mats to enable adults with long-term communication difficulties to participate in goal setting

Added to site March 2014