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.
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.
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).
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.
It is useful to separate communication cue cards into categories such as:
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.
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.
Some nursing homes go even further by writing encouraging sentences on cue cards to influence the client. For example:
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).
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.
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.
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?