A feasibility study of dementia communication training based on the VERA framework for pre-registration nurses: Part I developing the intervention

Corina Naughton, Chloe Beard, Vasiliki Tzouvara, Anne Pegram, Rebecca Verity, Rhiannon Eley, David Hingley

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Background People living with dementia have complex communication needs, especially during acute hospital admissions. The VERA framework (validation, emotion, reassurance, activity) was designed to promote person centred communication between student nurses and people living with dementia, but there is limited evaluation of its impact. Aim To measure the impact of dementia communication training (based on VERA) plus older adult unit (OAU) placement on students' ability to recognise opportunities for person centred (PC) communication compared to OAU placement alone. Method A control pre-post study design was used. Dementia communication training plus follow-up during OAU placement was delivered to 51 students (5 OAU, two hospitals) while 66 students (7 OAUs, five hospitals) acted as controls. The primary outcome was students' ability to recognise PC communication assessed using case vignettes. Data were collected using electronic survey and focus group interviews. Data analysis used independent non-parametric Mann-Whitney U test and thematic analysis. Results In total 52 students (response rate 40%) completed surveys at the end of placements, (38 intervention, 14 control group students). In the intervention group, participants were significantly more likely to identify PC responses with a mean score of 10.5 (SD 3.0) compared with 7.5 (SD 3.0) in the control group (p = 0.006). In focus group interviews (n = 19 students), the main themes were: connecting with patients, VERA in practice, communication challenges, and learning environment. VERA was described as a flexible approach that added to participants' communication toolkit. The learning environment, complexity of patients and organisational resources were important contextual factors. Conclusion The VERA framework has potential as a foundation level dementia communication training intervention, but it requires more rigorous testing. Nursing can lead the way in developing and embedding evidence-based, interdisciplinary dementia communication training in preregistration curricula.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNurse Education Today
Early online date31 Jan 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 Jan 2018


  • Dementia communication
  • person centred communication
  • student nurse
  • curriculum
  • quasi-experimental design


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