Phase 2: Engage

Step 5: Engage the Community Through Sector-Based Interviews or Focus Groups

A.   Contact Interviewee / Focus Group Members. Schedule a time to meet to complete an interview or hold a focus group. Introduce yourself, the project, and the reason they were selected to participate in the community assessment.

B.    Share Reference Materials. This should include the appropriate sector guide to help underscore the importance of the issue, raise awareness, and give sector-specific guidance for effectively interacting with people living with dementia.

C.    Conduct the interview or focus group.  If interviewing or moderating focus groups in pairs, one person can ask the questions and carry on the discussion while the other records the responses and contributes where appropriate. Focus group discussions should be recorded, if possible.

D.    Ask the questions. Pose the questions as they are written and in the order they appear in the questionnaire. The full questionnaire packet was designed based on the evidence-based, dementia-capable community framework developed by the Alzheimer's Association, as outlined for the Administration on Aging in the report, Dementia Capability Toolkit (October 2011).  

E.    Remind the interviewee about the sector guide. This will ensure they can access guidance in the future.

F.    Send a personal thank you note after the interview or focus group to strengthen connections for future needs and actions. Explain that their responses will be compiled with others and the results will be shared at a community meeting.  Inform them that they can expect an invitation to the meeting and share the date, if it is known.

Conducting Interviews and/or Focus Groups

Some interviewees prefer to complete the questionnaire prior to the interview meeting and will request an electronic copy.  If the questionnaire was completed prior to the meeting, it should be collected along with additional comments prompted by the discussion.

Individual interviews are preferred over group interviews because it is easier to form a relationship and receive rich feedback and stories. 

Expect people being interviewed to share personal stories. These stories lead to conversations that help identify the community’s strengths and gaps.

Keep an open mind and be objective.  While conducting the assessment, it’s critical to let the process play out rather than offer personal opinions that may compromise the results.  The outcomes may or may not validate the interview team’s perceptions, but that is the value and fun in doing a community-wide assessment.

Enjoy the experience! This is an opportunity to learn, network, and really get to know community residents along with the services and resources available.