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More than 400 people benefit from dementia communication courses

Monday 21 May 2018

MORE than 400 people across Greater Manchester have attended Empowered Conversation courses over the last two years to improve how they communicate with people with dementia.

The communications training – developed by Salford social enterprise Six Degrees and the University of Salford’s Institute for Dementia – hit the milestone figure during this year’s Dementia Action Week (May 21-27).

The Empowered Conversations course is supported by the Big Lottery Fund and is free to access for family members and friends of people living with dementia.   

Alongside these, Six Degrees have delivered the course to a range of organisations investing in how their teams communicate with people with dementia.

The course is designed to help participants to pause, reflect and reconnect with people with dementia when they encounter barriers in communication such as difficulty in laying down new memories or with word finding.

Small actions, big impact

Emma Smith, project manager and facilitator for Empowered Conversations, said: “We are delighted to have reached 400 people being trained in Dementia Action Week – especially as this year’s theme is Small Actions. Big Impact. Which is a perfect description of Empowered Conversations.  

“The course aims to help families and friends, as well as professionals to improve relationships, by giving practical ways to connect and stay connected. The course helps people to work through breaking down barriers to communication and ultimately realise there is more to a conversation than just the words.”

Dementia is caused by diseases of the brain and almost 30,000 people are estimated to be living with dementia in Greater Manchester.

Invaluable work 

When a person develops dementia, that person’s carer is very often also their husband or their wife, their child or their close friend

Dr Lydia Morris, a psychologist from the University of Salford who has been working on the project, said: “When a person develops dementia, that person’s carer is very often also their husband or their wife, their child or their close friend. 

“Empowered Conversations is doing some invaluable work in ensuring that, despite whatever else dementia strips away, it doesn’t remove people’s ability to communicate with each other.” 

Sarah Dudley, aged 33, attended an Empowered Conversations course in Bury, to help improve her communications with her mum, who is living with early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Better understanding of behaviour

She said: “I feel the course has helped me to understand and control my emotions and frustrations and have a better understanding of mum’s feelings and motivations for certain behaviours.

“I have had some more successful conversations with my mum after the course and can sympathise more with how difficult it must be for my mum in certain situations.

“I would recommend the course to anyone who wants to improve their communications with a loved one with dementia.”

For more information on Empowered Conversations or to find a free course near you, go to