The differentiation phase of Intensive Interaction: Using the approach with people with late-stage dementia.

In my recent Blog ‘Where Does Intensive Interaction Go Now?’ (24.03.23) I stated that from around 2010 onwards, the use of Intensive Interaction started to broaden out in its application across identifiably different recipient groups, and also across a wider range of care, educational or therapeutic contexts. One example of this is the use of Intensive Interaction (or Adaptive Interaction – see below) with people with late-stage dementia i.e. those people who in later life lose their capacity to use conversational language to enact sociability, and thus struggle (or even fail) to sustain or develop social relationships.

The papers that indicate this differentiation of the approach with this group of people are listed below, three of which I have previously posted summaries of on this site (you can follow the embedded links to see those summaries); but there may well be others not listed.

Ellis, M. & Astell, A. (2011) Adaptive Interaction: a new approach to communicating with people with advanced dementia. Journal of Dementia Care, 19(3), 24-26.

Harris, C. & Wolverson, E. (2014) Intensive Interaction: to build fulfilling relationshipsJournal of Dementia Care, 22 (6), 27-30.

Ellis, M. & Astell, A. (2017) Communicating with people living with dementia who are nonverbal: The creation of Adaptive Interaction. PloS one, 12(8), e0180395.

Heap, C. J. & Wolverson, E. (2020) Intensive Interaction and discourses of personhood: A focus group study with dementia caregivers. Dementia,19(6), 2018-2037.

Astell, A., Shoaran, S. & Ellis, M. (2022) Using Adaptive Interaction to Simplify Caregiver’s Communication with People with Dementia Who Cannot Speak‘. Frontiers in Communication,

As Astell et al (2022) state in their conclusions about their Adaptive Interaction (AI) approach (which ‘grew out of Intensive Interaction‘ (Ellis & Astell, 2018, p. 26)):

Adaptive Interaction (AI) is a simplified approach to communication that can equip caregivers with the skills to communicate effectively with individuals with dementia who can no longer speak. Caregivers [are] able to use AI to learn the language of the individuals they care for and adopt nonverbal strategies to connect with them.’

They go on to state that ‘Adaptive Interaction could be a useful tool for improving the quality of life and well-being of people living with advanced dementia who can no longer speak by providing a means of enhancing caregiving relationships. This in turn could improve the job satisfaction and feelings of competence of the people who care for them.

Important and powerful stuff to know for everyone concerned with the care of people with dementia … we just need more people to know about it.

Ref: Ellis, M. & Astell, A. (2018) Adaptive Interaction and Dementia: How to Communicate without Speech. JKP; London.

One thought on “The differentiation phase of Intensive Interaction: Using the approach with people with late-stage dementia.

  1. Hi Graham.
    Love this article
    So much more research needed and those in S&LT and other AHP groups to recognise their role in this field.
    Having just had the last 2 years in hospital/care settings I can only say that my experience of both verbal and nonverbal communication have been appalling and left me in tears for just a brief moment of interaction with another person.
    J xxxx


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