Cue Cards or Communication Cards are visual tools that can be used to overcome communication difficulties with clients living with dementia. They assist and support caregivers, staff and volunteers to engage with the person in their care.
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Cue Cards or Communication Cards are visual tools that can be used to overcome communication difficulties with clients living in long term care organizations.

They assist and support caregivers, staff and volunteers to engage with the person in their care. Cue cards and visual prompts are beneficial for both staff and clients.

Who can benefit from Communication Cards?

Cue cards are especially useful for people living with advanced dementia, aphasia, anomia (difficulty in finding words), and other related conditions affecting communication. They are also useful for clients from non English speaking backgrounds who have reverted to speaking their own language.

Benefits of Cue Cards for Caregivers

For Activity and Clinical Staff caring for clients with advanced dementia, dialogue can at times become a frustrating guessing game. They must often rely on prompt cards and pictures, dry erase memo boards and other external aids to understand and care for them effectively.

Communication cue cards diminish the workload of caregivers by making the task easier and more pleasant (most of the time).

How to Make Cue Cards for the Elderly

Cue Cards are inexpensive to make and may be tailor-made to the needs of each individual. They are a feasible alternative to hi-tech, expensive tools.

  • Cue cards should be in black and white and with or without pictures depending on the individual.
  • Cue cards should be written in a large font (as large as the need be) so the individual is able to read them easily.
  • Cue Cards should contain words or short sentences.
  • Stick to one medium: stick figures, line drawings, cartoon-like, or pictures (Remember that people with advanced dementia are better off with black & white cue cards).
  • Laminate for endurance.

Separate Cue Cards into Categories

It is useful to separate communication cue cards into categories such as:

  • Activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, eating, toileting)
  • Emotions and feelings (angry, frustrated, depressed, sad)
  • Events, visitors, outings (anticipation, expectation, leisure)
  • Memory and cognition (confusion, recognition, anxiety, worry)
  • Empathy (support, legitimization, respect, partnership)

Cue Cards to Mitigate Uncooperative Behavior

Cue cards are useful in a variety of situations. For instance, often uncooperative behavior is due to unmet needs. It may be that they are bored because they forgot what they like to do – or that they forgot the way to the toilet.

Flashing a couple of possible reasons to the client may solve the problem. Show cue cards in order of emergency: toilet first and then going for a walk for instance.

Cue Cards to Help Clients Recognize Familiar Faces

When the client has problems recognizing familiar faces, show them cue cards of familiar photos for perusal to help them make the association. This is not always successful but should be attempted nevertheless.

Cue Cards to Influence Clients

Some nursing homes go even further by writing encouraging sentences on cue cards to influence the client. For example:

  • "Eating makes me healthy and strong"
  • "I am going to shower to feel warm and clean"
  • "I am going to the hairdresser because my visitors are coming soon"

Studies on the use of such cue cards have reported positive results when shown to clients prior to the desired activities (meals, shower, and visitors).

Use Simple Sentences & Illustrations on Cue Cards

If you have a Speech Therapist available at your facility ask them for clues on how to simplify sentences and illustrations. For instance, if you have a cue card with the word ‘Family’ show stick figures (Mother, father and child) walking in a park, or if you a show ‘Dentist’ show a stick figure leaning over another figure sitting on a chair or a tooth and dental tools, etc.

Cue Card Templates to Get Started With

Attached are some cue cards templates to get started with. These can be laminated and used as they are or enlarged to make individual flash cards.

Perhaps you can ask a volunteer to help you make cue cards to the specific needs of your clients.

Reminiscing Cards - More Themes for Cue Cards

  • Reminiscing Cards – 1940s and 1950s
  • Themed subjects: seasons, fishing, colours
  • Socializing and leisure
  • Music Memories
  • Christmas

Cue Cards should be personalized where possible

Whatever sort of cue cards you decide to use, ensure they are appropriate to your client’s condition and stage of dementia.

Some visual prompts can be shared however for best results, cue cards should be personalised and catered to the needs of individuals.

We'd love to hear your feedback.
Have you found cue cards to be useful with your clients?

Files included:

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Cue Cards - Basics

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Cue Cards - Pain

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Cue Cards - I Want #1

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Cue Cards - I Want #2

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Cue Cards - I Feel

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Comments   Post a Comment

Rebecca P. 29th Dec 2022
Your cards are good, and I applaud you for attempting to provide additional resources to people who are struggling with the care of a loved one or patients. However, I need to stress the importance of a speech therapy evaluation in this instance. Our job is to determine the best mode of communication for patients. For example, some patients no longer have the eye sight for detailed pictures, and need large print icons. Conversely, some patients don’t understand the abstract nature of icons, and need pictures. And how many pictures/icons can the patient use before becoming visually overwhelmed? If presented with too many choices, it can increase agitation. It is a speech therapist’s job to work through all of that, and more. You have such great resources here, please just know your speech therapists are a resource for everyone, also. We are here to support not only patients, but caregivers.
marlene 26th Mar 2022
My mom is in dementia ward on quebec side and cannot speak french .
Most of the staff are French and she cannot communicate with them, nor them to her. She is also hard of hearing and cannot see very well. It is very tough for her. What suggestions do you have for her.
katherine 29th Jun 2021 Leisure & Lifetyle Coordinator
So amazed and thankful that we have this site to get great resources we need. One of my resident lost her speech and couldn't communicate. I found this clue card I'm looking for to use for her. So happy! Thank you very much Golden Carers!!!
Karen Modisett 22nd Mar 2021
I appreciate that you were offering this free information. My sister has a brain tumor in the speech center. No treatment has been developed yet however it is in operable. So we are preparing for her to lose more and more of her speech. The sheets are good guides for us as we travel down this uncertain highway.

I wondered why black and white images are preferred. Perhaps it’s because it’s the simplicity of the design. And the cost for printing. I just wondered what the diagnostic reason was.

One thing is that they can’t be saved a separate pages. I’m creating something for her husband to use or anyone who is with her and because the pages aren’t separate I’ll have to print them and scan them and then place them in the document.

Again thanks for your help.
Melva 18th Jan 2023 Activity Director
I cut them out and used the enlarge option on our copy machine. I then laminated them used a hole punch and a zip tie to keep them together. Almost like flip cards. It works until speech therapy comes up with something else.
Hope this helps.
Alison 28th Feb 2021 Allied Health Assistant
I have started to use these with patients on a psycho-geriatric ward. I feel that how the patient is feeling is so open to misinterpretation by medical staff simply because useful communication tools have not been considered. These cards are an amazing start in an attempt to break down some of the communication barriers however encouraging medical staff to get on board is unfortunately the main challenge. Can anyone recommend even more communication cue cards that might be available. So simple but soon effective. Many Thanks.
Talita 1st Mar 2021
Hi Alison, I find that if you search for 'communication cards' and then look in images tab of google you get a lot of relevant results. Some are free and some you have to buy.

The multicultural ones shared previously are also great:

Good luck, I hope it all works out well.
Julianne 28th Oct 2019 diversional therapist
I have been using these cue cards and they are excellent.
I would like to fine sentence in other languages. Does anyone have any ideas or where I could get this
Shannon 29th Jan 2019 Information Coordinator
There are 40+ languages available here in 2 different formats.

And our library has a wide range of communication cards and guides at we often recommend lifestyle workers to borrow the product from us to trial it, before purchasing it, as many of the products on the market can be quite pricey!
Solange 31st Jan 2019 Diversional Therapist
Thank you, Shannon, for sharing this priceless information.
Miriam 27th Jan 2019
These are awesome and perfect for my client who has Parkinson's and difficulty verbally communicating his needs in the middle of the night. Thank you so much for sharing these with us!
Talita 27th Jan 2019
Thank you so much for your feedback Miriam!
Sally 5th Sep 2018 Lifestyle Coordinator
Only today my boss asked me to source and make cue cards for a Russian resident who has recently come to the high care facility where I work, she is in advanced stage of dementia and already reverted back to her native language of Russian, within days another resident joins us and she's German! This sight is amazing! Hopefully these residents' lives will be enriched and their ability to communicate to me their needs, easier! Thank you so much
Talita 8th Sep 2018
Sally this is wonderful to hear! Thank you so much for your feedback!
Wendy 23rd Oct 2017 Lifestyle
Great, thanks heaps they are perfect just what i was looking for
Talita 28th Oct 2017
That's great to hear - thanks so much for your feedback Wendy!
Jennifer 22nd Feb 2017 Director Of Activities
This site has over 50 language cue cards in several formats. I print and laminate and then hole punch and put a ring binder for easy use.
Talita 27th Feb 2017
Great tip Jennifer, thanks for posting this link.
Co.As.It Community Services Inc. 14th Jun 2016 Aged Care and Community Services
Hi everyone, we have a great set of Italian language ones also available on our website which you can access for free. There are also many other resources available to share.
Michelle 17th May 2016 Activities Coordinator
We are also looking at using these card for patients who have had strokes and MS and that is only the spectrum we have so far. We are going to speak to our colleagues in young adult services to see if any of their communication cards could be adapted to meet our needs and vice a versa
Talita 18th May 2016
What a great idea Michelle - even more applications for the cue cards we hadn't thought of. If we can help you in anyway to adapt them to different needs, let us know.
karen 13th May 2016 activity specialist
Great idea thanks can't wait to give it a try
Talita 11th May 2016
Thanks everyone! Yes great feedback - the communication cards are suitable for people with hearing impairment and those from non English speaking backgrounds.
Patrice 10th May 2016 Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist
This is great...Love the idea...Thank you for sharing.
Carol 10th May 2016 Recreational Activity Officer Coordinator
Not only for people who have dementia but people who have a hearing impairment, for people whose first language isn't English, perfect idea thank you, Well Done!
Heather 10th May 2016 Recreation Activities Officer
Love this idea. Thanks for sharing.
Talita 10th May 2016
Thanks for all the feedback, it is very much appreciated!
JASHMINE 10th May 2016 Diversional Therapist
perfect idea.....thank you
Bronwyn 10th May 2016 Diversional Therapist
Perfect....Great resource!!
Amber 10th May 2016 Lifestyle Coordinator
This is great. I have found it hard to find good communication cards in the past but these are perfect. Well Done!
Elsa 10th May 2016 Activities Coordinator
This is also quite helpful for people whose first language isn't english. We were just discussing this during our last meeting. Thank you very much for this!
Satomi 10th May 2016 Carer / Activity Coordinator
Great. Thanks. Not only for people who have dementia but people who have hearing impairment would benefit from these cards. I'll talk to CNC and managers. Satomi
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