Nancy Brown

  • Designation: Deputy Director for Communications of the Validation Training Institute
  • Country: Israel
  • Title: Cross the Street and Step Into Their Shoes: Connect, Interact, and Communicate with Older Adults


Nancy Brown has over 18 years of experience in dementia care in a memory day center serving all levels of cognitive impairment. As a practitioner-researcher and specialist working with older adults living with advanced dementia, she is also a PhD candidate in dementia studies at the University of Edinburgh. She is a Certified Validation Teacher and conducts webinars, workshops, and private consultations for professional staff, volunteers, families, and caregivers, along with teaching Validation internationally. Nancy serves as the Deputy Director for Communications of the Validation Training Institute, Communications Chair for the Non-Pharmacological Interventions interest area of Alzheimer’s Association International, and Executive Committee member of SDRC (Scottish Dementia Research Consortium).


Validation is a non-pharmacological method of communicating with older adults with cognitive decline. Developed in the 1960s by social worker Naomi Feil, the Validation method draws inspiration from Erikson’s Developmental Stage Model, Rogers' counseling psychology, and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The Feil method introduced techniques that aligned with these theories from humanistic psychology and was the first method to put person-centered care into practice.

Validation creates a shared space where the older person can express themselves through dynamic engagement, both verbal and non-verbal. No matter how irrational it may seem, all communication is considered an expression of the person's internal experience of reality. In this interactive workshop, participants will experience a variety of Validation techniques through role plays and hands-on practice that they can immediately apply to their daily work.

Validation incorporates (1) a positive philosophy of supportive, multidisciplinary care, (2) a behavioral staging model of cognitive impairment, and (3) stage-specific communication techniques for both one-to-one and group interactions. The techniques practiced in this workshop are rooted in establishing emotional connectivity and building trusting relationships. Through empathy, the Validation practitioner connects to each individual's personhood, accepts the older person without judgment, listens empathetically, employs emotional and physical mirroring, identifies the emotional undercurrent of their communication, and uses therapeutic touch.

This workshop incorporates the following elements:
• Introduction to Validation, Theory, and Principles
• Pathway to Empathy: Validation Attitude and Techniques
             Interactive audience participation through role play and exercises
• Going Deeper: Validation Techniques for Aggressive Behavior
           Develop a deeper understanding of the various reasons for ‘bizarre,’ difficult, or aggressive behavior
• Questions and Answers
With increased staffing shortages and limited resources, professionals, caregivers, and families require specialized skills to work effectively with this vulnerable population. Such techniques promote a new culture of dementia care that are inclusive and relevant to all cultural expressions and across a variety of diverse settings.

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