Better spiritual support for people living with early stage dementia: Developing the diamond conversation model.

Marc Haufe, Carlo J. W. Leget, Marieke Potma, Saskia Teunissen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: People with early-stage dementia could benefit greatly from on-going spiritual support. However, health care professionals working in dementia care often do not have a clear idea of what such support might entail. There is a lack of tools that can help professionals provide such support. The Diamond conversation model used in palliative care could provide such a support. Aims: To develop the Diamond model for early-stage dementia so that professionals can provide better spiritual support. Methods: Participatory research was conducted. Reflective interviews with chaplains, case managers and health psychologists identified frequently occurring existential and spiritual issues of clients and family members. A core participatory group consisting of chaplains, a psychologist and a researcher further analysed these issues thematically and co-developed the Diamond model for early stage dementia over three co-creation sessions. Researchers with Diamond model expertise provided feedback to the core participatory group in between these sessions based on the session output. Findings: Central existential and spiritual issues were found to be: self-confidence and –worth, adaptability and capacity, security and loss, burden and enrichment of memory and faith and meaning. The five polarities of the Diamond model were found helpful to understand tensions surrounding these issues. Specific tensions were identified between maintaining a self and being valued, finding direction in what to do and a way to bear changes in ability, a strong need for attachment and letting go of past ways to relate to one another, the renewed intensity of long term memories and decline of the short term ones and surrendering to one’s life situation and wanting certainty and meaning. Conclusions: The newly developed Diamond model for people with early-stage dementia offers a valuable framework to help professionals provide conversational support. More research needs to be done to further test and develop the model in practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-108
Number of pages18
Issue number1
Early online date7 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2023


  • communication
  • early stage dementia
  • existential care
  • spiritual care

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