People interact both to share knowledge and to build relationships. From this perspective, it is possible to identify two basic skills in communicating with any other person.

The first is being able to send a message that can be understood, and the second is being able to understand any messages sent back.

The effects of dementia can affect both of these skills. Poor or damaged skills can lead to people getting the wrong idea about each other and may cause bad feelings between them.

There is a real need for advice on good communication skills to help everyone touched by dementia – for people living with the condition as well as for those caring for them. The Dementia Toolkit for Effective Communication (DemTalk) aims to help people to improve these skills, whether involved with dementia through work or in contact with it through friends or family.

DemTalk has been shaped over an eighteen-month consultation process that has taken place in the UK and elsewhere.

The authors have asked for the views, ideas and experiences of people living with dementia and their carers during this consultation. This highlighted the urgent need for clear advice on communication, both to inform and reassure.

As well as people living with dementia and their carers, professionals from many fields, including care-home managers, speech and language therapists, nurses, psychiatrists and psychologists, have had an input in the DemTalk project.

We have also taken note of best practice as documented in past and present books and research papers.

DemTalk pulls together all of the parts described above to show people how to use simple, clear techniques to improve communication.