Dementia Talk

Researchers in the Bristol Centre for Linguistics, Dr Kate Beeching and Dr James Murphy, in partnership with Professor Richard Cheston, Professor of Mental Health (Dementia), and Professor Karen Sage, Director of the Bristol Speech and Language Therapy Research Unit, are seeking funding to support an innovative project to create the Bristol Corpus of Dementia Talk (BriCoDeT).

Dementia is one of the most pressing challenges facing society today.  Government, research institutions and charities are investing in research on the causes of dementia and potential medical treatments, but there is an urgent need to examine the impact of significantly increasing levels of dementia within the UK from a different perspective - that of people with dementia themselves, their carers and family members.

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, announced on 21 February 2015 that the Society has created a community of over 1 million 'dementia friends' to help communities and businesses become dementia-friendly - that is, more aware of dementia, more understanding of the condition and more able to respond appropriately to it. There is an urgent need to increase activities which will alleviate the isolation, fear and despair experienced by those affected by dementia, based on robust and informed research, and by helping families, carers and members of the general public to engage in verbal interaction with them.

The project's main purpose is to increase good practice in communicating with people affected by dementia and to improve quality of life for people with dementia. Though there is a great deal of information about living with dementia, good practice in how to engage in spoken interaction with those affected has, thus far, been given little attention. The project is innovative and timely in aiming to apply incisive empirical methodologies developed in linguistics to shed light on verbal interaction between those living with dementia and their carers.

Helen Watts, a PhD student in linguistics at UWE Bristol, is looking specifically at “Residential Care Workers’ interactions with residents living with early stage dementia”.


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