Validation of the Profile for Communication Abilities in Dementia (P-CAD)

Communication difficulties are associated with dementia. These communication difficulties cause frustration, anger and anxiety not only for the person with dementia, but also for caregivers, friends and family. Communication difficulties increase as dementia progresses. The person with dementia can lose confidence, withdraw from social interaction and become isolated and depressed. Behavioural difficulties can occur because of an inability to communicate effectively. Research suggests that early management of communication difficulties can reduce this impact and improve quality of life.
Speech and language therapists (SLTs) should actively work with people with dementia and caregivers throughout the course of dementia. Unlike UK and USA, the Irish SLTs have no professional guidelines or policies on dementia. Thus care is fragmented. People with dementia are referred to SLT late and often because of swallowing rather than communication difficulty. There is a perception that little can be done to help communication and SLTs lack assessments that profile communication skills in dementia.
The aim of this project is to validate an assessment, the Profile for Communication Abilities in Dementia (P-CAD). This will give SLTs a tool to profile communication difficulty and direct individualised advice, support and therapy from the outset. The P-CAD will also be useful to track change over time and to check whether therapy is effective. There are two phases to this study. Phase 1 seeks feedback on the P-CAD from user groups (caregivers, people with dementia, SLTs and other health professionals) and finalizes the P-CAD. In Phase 2, the P-CAD will be trialled on 100 people with dementia and their caregivers.
Results will be validated against cognitive and communication scales. Finally, a valid reliable P-CAD will be available free to SLTs. Its availability should help develop individualised care pathways, encourage increased awareness of the SLT role and improve dementia care in Ireland.


Award Date
25 June 2015
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Dr Margaret Walshe
Host Institution
Trinity College Dublin
Applied Research Projects in Dementia