Norfolk & Suffolk Dementia Alliance launches “Let’s Talk” with Toolwire’s Experiential Learning solution

New Interactive tools to bridge the communication gap between people with Dementia and their professional carers or family


Pleasanton, CA and London, UK – Friday 6th December 2013 – Toolwire today announced that Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance has launched a new range of online Learning tools to help users develop essential skills in communicating with people living with Dementia. The series of digital media simulations called “Let’s Talk” provides professional carers and family or friends to immerse themselves in real life situations and to see first-hand the results of their decisions or actions.

Let’s Talk provides emotional context to the textual or factual information about Dementia. It addresses issues such as using the correct body language, how to position yourself when speaking to someone with Dementia and how best to communicate to determine a more positive outcome with every day activities. The tool is accessible for free through The Learning Location website which is open to individual carers, families, professional staff and organisations looking for relevant information, guides and training support.

Willie Cruickshank, Director at Norfolk & Suffolk Dementia Alliance, comments, “Knowing how to communicate appropriately with people living with Dementia is at the very heart of providing truly person-centred care. All too often it is simple failures in communication that lead to the frustration that can often occur for many carers and families – and more importantly for people living with Dementia who become distressed and agitated at being constantly misunderstood.”

Most people living with Dementia experience significant loss of short term and recent memory function during the progression of their illness and those affected will often only be left with long term memories from their early adulthood as the context for their ‘here and now’. This period of powerful, long term memory is laid down during a phase of life known as the “reminiscence bump”.[1] The reminiscence bump typically occurs between the ages of 17 – 30 and is why many people living with Dementia associate names and events from their past with those of the present day.

Dementia Alliance partner ‘Many Happy Returns‘ are also involved in helping to bridge the communication gap through the development of a free reminiscence app. Available from the iTunes store, the app supports users of the “Let’s Talk” tools by providing a collection of carefully selected images and information from the 40s or 50s to help facilitate interaction, communication and aid a better connection.

Cruickshank adds, “Academic research[2] has shown that in order to improve learning transfer into practice and improve standards of care we need to be providing more than just factual training. Experiential Learning and the emotional component plays an essential role in a successful blended learning solution. The Government has committed to ensuring that all NHS staff that look after patients with dementia will receive foundation level dementia training[3] and online tools, like “Let’s Talk”, will be a highly effective component in any blended learning solution developed to deliver on that specific need.”

John Valencia, CEO at Toolwire, adds, “Traditionally, organisations have delivered learning experiences through the use of scenario-based role-plays in which students train by practicing critical skills with their peers and instructors instead of working directly with clients. This approach, however, is challenging to scale and can lack consistency in delivery. Online Experiential Learning immerses participants in authentic situations that are both scalable and reusable. These multi-branching interactive stories enable learners to pursue personalised journeys and deliver learning outcomes more naturally than is possible with other forms of traditional e-learning. Crucially, these scenarios enable learners to practise applying new information and skills and learn from their mistakes in safe online environments. Ultimately this means a better outcome for everyone.”

One in three people over the age of 65 will develop Dementia. In the UK in 2012, there were 850,000 people diagnosed to have dementia – which is the equivalent to the total population of Norfolk. With a rapidly aging population, this number is predicted to double in the next 30 years.

The Let’s Talk trials have proven to be extremely positive and the tool has been successfully shortlisted for External Learning Solution of the Year in the 2014 Learning Awards.

Notes to Editor

[1] Reminiscence Bump
[2] Job/work environment factors influencing training transfer within a human service agency: some indicative support for Baldwin and Ford’s transfer climate construct, Nicholas Clarke
[3] Mandate from the Government to Health Education England: April 2013 to March 2015 para 2.4.3

What is Dementia? Dementia describes different brain disorders that trigger a loss of brain function. The symptoms (which include memory loss; changes in personality and mood; mental confusion; low attention span; visual hallucinations and wandering) are all usually progressive and eventually severe. Although Dementia is more prevalent in over 65 year olds, it is not a normal part of aging and can affect people who are much younger.

About Toolwire
Toolwire is a learning and technology solutions provider specialising in products and services for Experiential Learning. Empowering Higher Education and corporate training institutions to deliver immersive “virtual internships” across a broad range of subject areas including Business, Health Care, Social Work, Law, Information Technology, and more, Toolwire’s Experiential Learning solutions provide the quickest, most effective way to develop skills, improve knowledge retention, and enhance student success.

About Norfolk & Suffolk Dementia Alliance
The Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance is an initiative that brings Norfolk and Suffolk’s most supportive organisations all together. This is a cohesive campaign to improve caring for people with dementia and the information is readily available for both professional carers, family or friends who wish to be better informed about Dementia. For further information please visit or The Learning location

Media Contacts:
Peyton Williams
Toolwire, Inc.
1-866-935-8665 Ext. 169

Lena Ahad
Technology PR
UK +44 (0)7908 725212