Current Projects

Circa BC: Community Based Research to Customize a Computer-Based Reminiscence Program for BC Seniors with Dementia

Reminiscence activities are widely recognized as beneficial for people with dementia, including, in particular, “place-reminiscence,” which draws on long-term memories of the places in which one spent childhood and early adulthood. A multimedia computer-based program called CIRCA (Computer Interactive Reminiscence Conversation Aid), which includes music, video clips, and photos, was developed by researchers in Scotland for people living in Dundee. It has shown considerable promise in promoting social interaction for people with dementia with conversation partners there.

Our research team is working with local seniors to explore issues in customizing the CIRCA program so that it can be used with BC seniors with dementia. Using a community-based research design, we have established focus groups with community-dwelling BC seniors living in either Metropolitan Vancouver or Kamloops who are long-time residents of the province. We are working with them and with local archives to identify materials that can be incorporated into a CIRCA program to support place-reminiscence for BC seniors with dementia.  Our research is giving us valuable insight into the nature and process of community-based reminiscence. In addition, it is an important first step in developing and evaluating a CIRCA-BC program to support social interaction for BC seniors with dementia.

Principal Investigator: Barbara Purves


  • Wendy Hulko,
    Associate Professor,
    Social Work and Human Services,
    Thompson Rivers University,  Kamloops, BC
  • Alison Phinney,
    Associate Professor,
    School of Nursing, University of BC
  • Arlene Astell
    Senior Lecturer
    Psychology, St. Andrews University, Scotland

Research Assistants:

  • Elizabeth Bryan, University of BC
  • Nathan Carter, University of BC
  • James Kelly Shawana, Thompson Rivers University

Funding Support: BC Medical Services Foundation (2008 – 2011).

School of Audiology & Speech Sciences – Aphasia Mentoring Project (SASS – AMP)

For people with aphasia, loss of language can be a major barrier to social participation in a host of activities that previously were part of their everyday lives. All too often, people with aphasia lose far more than language; they also lose vocational, social, and recreational opportunities that were once taken for granted. For them, and for those close to them, it can be challenging to find ways to cope with their remaining impairments, to find meaning in their changed identity, and to live successfully with their aphasia. Many people with aphasia, probably more than we realize, accomplish this.  However, aphasia itself can make it difficult for them to find ways to share their expertise with others, and once discharged from formal intervention programs they may have little or no opportunity to do so.

SASS-AMP is a pilot research study that uses participatory design to explore the feasibility of establishing a mentorship program in which people with chronic aphasia will work together with students to help them understand what it means to live with aphasia. The project, which includes 12 participants with aphasia, involves weekly meetings with all participants to develop and evaluate activities that can support people with aphasia in new mentorship roles, and that will ultimately create opportunities for them and for students to learn about aphasia from and with each other.

Principal Investigator: Barbara Purves


  • Lisa Avery
    School of Audiology & Speech Sciences

Research Assistant:

  • Jill Petersen

Funding Support: UBC New Faculty Startup Grant


For more information about these and other projects, contact the Acquired Language Disorders Lab researchers at 604-827-3042 or Barbara Purves at 604-822-2288 or by email at: