In 2017, the National Institutes of Health released the first guidelines to help healthcare providers improve communication about dementia in the healthcare workforce.
The guidance recommends a number of new communications strategies, including using more frequent updates, creating more personalized content and making more personalized recommendations.
In 2018, the American Medical Association, American Heart Association and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons joined forces to publish the American College of Cardiology’s 2018 guideline for dementia care, which called for greater use of personalized messages.
“Dementia has become a critical priority for healthcare professionals and healthcare organizations alike,” says Katherine S. Luebber, the organization’s vice president of policy, communication and public affairs.
“We have to recognize that people with dementia have different needs, which is why we need to be thinking about how we communicate with them.”
The new guidance was created to be “a resource for providers to use and understand more effectively,” says Sarah W. Brown, an associate professor of communication and community engagement at the University of Texas at Austin.
The new guidelines recommend a number, but Brown says one of the biggest challenges is that it’s very much based on a research paper.
“The goal of this is to be as up-to-date as possible,” she says.
“So we’re not going to say, ‘This is the best way to communicate with people with Alzheimer’s disease.’
The AMA and the other groups that created the guideline are also calling for a new focus on social media. “
This is how we’re doing it.”
The AMA and the other groups that created the guideline are also calling for a new focus on social media.
“While it is great that more providers are beginning to incorporate social media into their communication, this approach is not a silver bullet,” Brown says.
Social media is an integral part of healthcare and should be utilized appropriately, says Lisa M. O’Brien, director of communications at the American Heart, Stroke and Blood Institute.
“There are no perfect social media tools,” she adds.
“It’s not that we don’t need tools to do better.
But I think the most important thing is that we get more people into the conversation about dementia and we make better decisions about how to engage and communicate with those who have dementia.”