AHP webinar series: eating and drinking

On Friday 5th June, Evelyn Newman, a dietitian from NHS Highland led an AHP webinar, where she shared practical tips, ideas and resources to help support people living with dementia to eat and drink well. You can watch the full webinar again here https://youtu.be/jV_s4gGyRPw

Please leave any further comments on this blog post for Evelyn to continue the conversation with you or link with Evelyn at @evelynnewman17. During the webinar, participants asked lots of great questions and today we are posting Evelyn’s replies. 

Questions by you and Answers by Evelyn

QUESTION For a carer for someone with mild dementia, who is not keen to eat and his partner gets uptight re him not eating. Any suggestions and is this a common issue?

ANSWER It is very common and we see this with people who have cancer too. It’s natural to worry about loved ones –especially if you feel unable to help them yourself. Try to understand why his appetite is poor e.g. is the texture right for him? Try tasting activities with little bits of new foods/drinks that involve his partner too. He may do better having 6 small meals/snacks/finger foods rather than a sit down meal. If you notice he is losing weight, you may need to self refer to a local community dietitian.

QUESTION Could you give more information on the contract with Apetito for providing freezers and microwaves? Is that an NHS contract?

ANSWER NHS Highland has a contract with Apetito for people receiving care at home but individuals can arrange to purchase products themselves too. The freezer and microwave are provided by the company for the duration of their using the products. Contact the company for a discussion about what they can offer your service users locally.

QUESTION One of the biggest concerns carers have about supporting a family member with dementia is that they are not taking enough fluids.  Short of prompting, or providing appropriate cup or drinking vessel, are there any other innovations for encouraging fluid intake.

ANSWER You could try offering ice lollies, jelly, sorbet, ice cream or get them to help make Angel Delight (or similar) Juicy fruit like oranges and melon also have a higher fluid content, so chop them up and keep in the fridge for a refreshing snack. I am also regularly asked about “jelly drops” They are now being produced and the company has contacted people who have already registered an interest in them. Look at their website for more details www.jellydrops.co.uk 

QUESTION When preparing meals what are your views on seasoning? Especially salt.

ANSWER Taste sensation is altered during illness and aging or with certain medication. Stronger flavours are encouraged to stimulate tastebuds whether it’s salt, pepper, sauces and pickles. Using garlic e.g. garlic bread/kievs or herbs/spices if food can also reduce menu fatigue, which is a common problem in care home setting especially

QUESTION At the beginning you mentioned risk of dehydration and malnutrition, are there statistics for people with dementia on a texture modified diet? Do you have a reference for this please? Thank you, excellent presentation

ANSWER Please contact www.dysphagiagame.com as they developed this great educational game to help people understand more about swallowing difficulties

QUESTION Have you got any advice about how to support people when they have very repetitive cravings eg compelled to eat large amounts of biscuits, cakes, sweets in one go or very restricted to eating one particular type of food?

ANSWER Try to understand repetitive behaviour – are they bored? can you alter routine or food available?  People who have dementia often prefer sweet foods so maybe try lower calorie options to improve diet quality and reduce risks of tooth decay or obesity. Encourage other sweet tasting food e.g. (homemade) ice lollies, sorbets, carrot/celery, cucumber, pepper sticks, cherry tomatoes or fruit (may need to be chopped up) or get them involved in preparing food

QUESTION what is the name of the app again? 

ANSWER IDDSI

QUESTION Hi Evelyn. Would love to know the name of the IDDSI app/details on it so we can download it. Thanks 

ANSWER Just go to the App store and search for IDDSI. Otherwise look on the website www.iddsi.org   Another helpful site is www.oakhouse-kitchen.com or at the Care Inspectorate hub where they have advice for supporting people with dysphagia www.careinspectorate.com

QUESTION Any other tips to prompt and encourage people with dementia to eat and drink ANSWER Look for ways to stimulate their senses; engage them in cooking, growing/gardening; meet with other people-social interaction can help; try using coloured/adaptive cutlery/crockery (local occupational therapy service can assess and advise if necessary)

QUESTION Can Dementia Link Workers refer to or seek advice from AHP directly? 

ANSWER Most AHPs take direct referrals but you should call them and ask what happens in your area. There are other sources of information too such as www.nhsinform.scot or professional associations such as The British dietetic association www.bda.uk.com or the Care Inspectorate hub www.careinspectorate.com.

Alzheimer Scotland also developed a leaflet in partnership on who AHPs are and how you can refer to an AHP in Scotland

We invite you all at the end of each webinar to share something you might  try out or change following today’s webinar” here are a short selection of your replies

  • I loved the idea of trying out a taster menu or maybe small plates like tapas style.
  • To incorporate Dieticians and speech and language therapy into our Memory Assessment Service formal post diagnostic group
  • Will try and eat maybe weekly with my mum to encourage her to enjoy a meal, once lockdown is over of course. She often asks to go out to eat with me, maybe this is to not eat on her own. She lives alone. I had not thought of this as a reason.
  • I will take this information into practice when I graduate, especially the roles of other professions in nutrition and when it is beneficial to refer on.

Contributor

Evelyn Newman  @evelynnewman17

AHP Dementia Webinar Series: Enhancing lives through technology

On Monday June 1st, 2020 Helen and Emma from NHS Grampian shared their work to enhance lives through technology and you can listen to the full webinar here https://youtu.be/r3tPZj2qdFA.  Helen and Emma continue to share their work and progress on twitter at @HelenCronin20 and @emmaingram101 and please leave any further comments on this blog post for them to answer and continue the conversation. During the webinar, participants asked lots of great questions and today we are posting the replies  

Questions from you & Answers from Emma and Helen

QUESTION Hi guys, brilliant so far. Helen you mentioned implementing this technology at the right time. Can I ask are most clients you have implemented this with in early stages of their diagnosis? Thanks

ANSWER Our service sits within the community mental health team. It is not always easy to access people at the earlier stage, given that so many of the individuals we are discussing are supported in primary care, but we have found  that for this type of technology and work to be effective, it needs to be aimed at those earlier in their diagnosis. In order to generate more referrals, we have developed pathways and training for our colleagues to support referrals so individuals who are open to the team can access this form of therapeutic intervention.

Within NHS Grampian we have developed a criteria and screening pathway to support decision making prior to the Occupational Therapy assessment process.

Criteria

  • Over 65 Mild cognitive impairment/ early stage of dementia (or those under 65 with a diagnosis of dementia and open to Mental Health services)
  • Those reporting mental health changes where their roles, routines and habits are impacted.
  • Individual’s must have insight into changes they are experiencing with regards to their Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs)

We are looking to establish stronger links with GP practices in order for them to refer to the service in a more timely manner. 

QUESTION How do you know when someone is no longer able to use the equipment?

ANSWER This is a difficult question and varies greatly from person to person. The first indicator is that carers and the individual report changes in abilities, often it is that the individual now requires more support with activities of daily living (ADL) as opposed to the IADLS- such as personal care and meals. This would be an indication that they require an increased level of support that this technology project cannot offer. In addition to this, the outcome measures and repeat functional assessment offer an indication of change and ability, when there are noticeable differences in the scores and reports of changes by the individual, it may be that their level of support needs reviews.  It’s a process that requires to be reviewed continual.

QUESTION Do you only ever put this in place if someone has the technology already? Would you ever recommend buying the tech?

ANSWER Individuals will be fully screened and assessed by the OAMH Occupational Therapists by using standardised and non-standardised assessments to ensure that the technology will be of benefit to them. If assessment indicates that voice-controlled intelligent assistants may offer support, we have applied for funding via several streams for us to provide the devices to the individual on a permanent basis.  If we did not have funding, we might suggest that this may help, and it would be the individual’s choice to purchase the equipment.  If they did not wish to purchase, we would explore other ways of engaging the client in early intervention strategies.

QUESTION Are there other technologies you’ve come across during your work and research that you’ve found are useful in enhancing ADLs and QOL?

ANSWER This project has been developed to specifically look at how individuals engage in their Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) such as medication management, shopping and meal preparation, household cleaning and home maintenance, which are much more complex than ADLs. When individuals start to have difficulties participating in their IADLS this usually indicates the beginning of problems with their physical health and/or cognitive health, and its then technology should be considered and introduced.

There are various forms of technology on the market (telecare, apps, etc) that may enhance people’s quality of life, however, it is extremely important that as Allied Health Professionals we are aware that one type of technology does not fit all. In our experience we often find people have had technology in the home however, it was meeting their needs e.g. too complicated to use, did not meet their needs. In order for technology to be be effective, people’s abilities need to be fully assessed so the technology can be tailored to their needs.  

QUESTION Which outcome measures are you using?

ANSWER We initially agreed that we would be using the following;

  • The Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS)
  • Frenchay Activities Index (FAI)
  • PHQ-9 (Patient Health Questionnaire9)
  • Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS)
  • Strategy Checklist from our occupational therapy home based memory work

However, as we are intending on carrying out a feasibility study, so we have started looking looking at some other options too. These outcome measures will be completed pre and post intervention, then at the 3 month review.  It has been very difficult to find an outcome measure specific to measuring IADLS- if anyone has any suggestions, please let us know.

QUESTION Have you worked with colleagues in speech and language therapy I would be interested having feedback on any developments, how will you continue to share your work? The overlaps are significant and there are great opportunities for joint work? The project sounds really exciting, great work, thank you for sharing.

ANSWER This is a great point and we will defiantly think on how we can liaise with our Speech and Language colleagues in NHS Grampian. We plan on sharing our progress via twitter follow @HelenCronin20 and @emmaingram101 and via the AHP Group.

QUESTION Do you have your citizens sign any form of privacy agreement with most systems listening to conversations.

ANSWER As with all Occupational Therapy assessment and intervention consent is obtained. In addition to this, we have developed an agreement and consent form detailing NHS Grampians Privacy Agreement. The programme is tailored to those individuals who have insight into changes they are experiencing with regards to their IADLs, mostly independent, and do not require the support of a carer to consent. The programme is based wholly on a volunteer process. We are continually liaising with our Information Governance to ensure that we  provide clarity and confirmation with regards to privacy and data gathering.

QUESTION I wondered did the devices confuse anyone?

ANSWER Often in the screening and assessment phase it has been identified that this form of therapeutic input may not meet the needs of the client so other forms of occupational therapy  support/intervention have been explored.  The first couple of sessions of the intervention are aimed at spending time familiarising the person with the device. If it was noted here that the client was confused or not supported by the device, we would consider other supports. Fortunately, this has not been the case for the clients we have used it with so far.

QUESTION I would be interested to see this sort of thing embedded into Dementia Post Diagnostic Support, which could also help address the problems with reaching people at an early enough stage of the illness to make an impact.  I was just wondering if you have considered this at all?

ANSWER Yes it would fit nicely with Post Diagnostic support and embedding it in the work may facilitate reaching people earlier. In our practice we find that individuals are not being diagnosed early enough but getting the word out there and have established early intervention programmes may help encourage early diagnosis.

QUESTION Has this been looked at by us with dementia already? We are the experts, don’t forget those with dementia are not all over 65!

ANSWER Within NHS Grampain Mental Health services are designed that people aged 18 – 65 are seen by the Adult mental heath team and individuals over 65 or (or those under 65 with a diagnosis of dementia) are seen by the older adult mental health team, we are aware how services are referred are maybe not inclusive however, unfortunately this is how the service has been structured.

The people that we have used this technology have given us feedback and during our feasibility study we intend to explore this further and as you say, we always ensure we listen to the person with dementia and their supporters as only then will this technology be helpful in supporting a person at home.

We invite you all at the end of each webinar to share something you might try out or change following today’s webinar” here are a short selection of your replies

  • I am just about to start my first occupational therapy job as a Band 5 occupational therapist in an Older Adults Community Mental Health and would definitely consider using technology with my future clients!
  • I will encourage my husband to use our devices to help him retain some independence
  • Check out my own Amazon Echo and try and learn more about its capabilities.
  • I am a student occupational therapist and have volunteered for a research project looking at assistive technology for adult with dementia so this had really helped to start me off and I hope to do some further reading on the topic

Contributors:

Helen Cronin @HelenCronin20

Emma Ingram @emmaingram101

Nutrition, dementia and Coronavirus – what do you need to know?

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic we have all faced challenges to look after our own health and wellbeing, as well as that of the people we care about.  At times it might feel like we are being bombarded with information about coronavirus.  Unfortunately there is a lot of misinformation about nutrition and coronavirus.  So with that in mind, I thought it may be useful to take a look at some of the myths and facts, as well as some of the things we can do to look after our nutritional wellbeing.

Eating ‘Super foods’ can help boost my immune system

No particular food or food supplement can ‘boost’ your immune system.  You should avoid food supplements that suggest this can be the case as there is no evidence that they work.  In fact there is no such thing as a super food either.  Each food provides us with different nutrients in different amounts.  That’s why Dietitians recommend that you eat a healthy, balanced diet where possible, to give your body the wide range of nutrients it needs to keep your immune system healthy. 

When you have a dementia this can change the way that your body makes sense of taste signals making this more challenging.  Adding stronger flavoured foods such as mature cheese, herbs, spices, citrus fruits, sauces and chutneys can help increase the taste of food and make it easier to include more variety.  A preference for sweet foods can also occur.  Naturally sweet foods such as carrot, sweetcorn, squash and parsnip can make normally savoury dishes sweet.  You could also try adding a little sweet chilli sauce, honey or maple syrup to dishes.  Even milk based desserts provide a whole range of nutrients including energy, protein and calcium.  Adding some dried, tinned or fresh fruit for extra sweetness also adds extra vitamins, minerals and fibre.

Getting outside can help my nutrition

Yes this is true!  Getting outdoors is not only good for your nutrition but also your overall mental health and wellbeing.  Between April and September in the UK is the best time for us to use ultraviolet light from sunlight to make vitamin D in our skin.    Vitamin D is known to help maintain healthy bones, teeth and muscles.  The best way to do this is to get some sunlight between 11am-3pm in the day in short bursts.  I am not talking about sunbathing.  Instead expose small amounts of skin such as hands, face or arms to the light without sun cream for short periods of time.  If you are shielding or self isolating and have access to a garden or balcony you could use this to get the sunlight you need.  Unfortunately sitting beside a sunny window indoors does not count, as the window blocks the ultraviolet light needed.  You should be careful to protect your skin if you are in sunlight for longer periods.  Use an appropriate sun protection cream to avoid burning.

I worry I could catch coronavirus from my food

The European Food Safety Authority have advised that it is very unlikely that coronavirus (Covid-19) can be transmitted by eating food.  However it is always important to ensure good food safety to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.  Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is recommended before preparing food and before eating.  Clean down surfaces regularly and make sure food is stored properly.

If you support someone that has dementia, it may be helpful to provide assistance with food rotation to make sure it is being used within ‘use by’ dates.  Also check to make sure foods are being stored in the right place – some can be kept in a store cupboard whilst others will need to be put in the fridge or freezer.  Keeping a small stock of foods that can be used to make a meal such as tinned, frozen, dried or vacuum packed foods can be a good idea.  The British Dietetic Association older people’s group has produced this helpful leaflet: https://www.bda.uk.com/uploads/assets/275073a5-06cc-473f-b349ca768124e72f/200406-BDA-OPSG-Store-cupboard-Flier-V2-A4-version.pdf

If you normally receive support to make your meals from family or carers and this is isn’t possible just now, consider using companies who deliver ready to heat meals.  Local businesses such as butchers, restaurants and cafés sometimes offer this service, so check what is available in your local area.

Eating and drinking can still be enjoyable

Definitely!  Pick out a food or meal that is associated with a particular memory.  Everyone’s memories are different so pick something that is specific to you.  Talking about that food with someone and the memory it is associated with can be powerful.  You may have heard celebrity chefs talk about using all of our senses to enhance the mealtime experience.  If we use the example of fish and chips at the seaside – the sound of waves, wrapping the fish and chips in paper, holding shells or a trinket bought on a favourite beach holiday or speaking about old photographs could help recall those memories.  Doing this helps you connect to your past but also making eating and drinking more enjoyable.

Regular meals can also help you to keep a routine especially if you are shielding or self isolating.  Dementia can reduce our response to physical signals which tell us we need to eat or drink such as a rumbling stomach or dry mouth.  Technology can be used as a prompt – setting an alarm on a mobile phone or smart speaker can be useful.  Written prompts or even a telephone call also be used.  Use clear or brightly coloured cups to draw attention to drinks. 

Where possible continue to celebrate occasions that are important to you.  It may be as simple as having food you associate with a certain day of the week on that day, such as a roast dinner on a Sunday.  Maybe it is important to you to have cake on your Birthday.  Marking days or events in this way can help us remain orientated to the day and time of year.  Picnic meals, barbeques or afternoon tea can also be used to celebrate special occasions if you are shielding or self isolating.

Remember that health services are still available to help you if you need them.  If you are worried that you or someone you care for has lost a lot of weight without trying in the past 3-6 months, or has been eating little for more than a week, contact your GP or other health professional.  If needed they can arrange for a referral to a local Dietitian for advice.  You can check your risk and find other useful information at: https://www.bapen.org.uk/screening-and-must/malnutrition-self-screening-tool 

Remember the best way to protect yourself during the covid-19 pandemic is to wash your hands regularly and follow government advice where possible.

There is lots of good advice on how to look after your nutrition and your overall wellbeing at the following websites:

https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/covid-19-corona-virus-advice-for-the-general-public.html   A range of resources from the British Dietetic Association regarding nutrition topics related to Covid-19.

https://www.bda.uk.com/food-health/food-facts.html  Food factsheets on a range of nutrition topics written by Dietitians.

https://www.foodstandards.gov.scot/consumers/food-safety/coronavirus   Food safety advice

https://www.readyscotland.org/coronavirus/   Government advice and support on living well during the current coronavirus.

https://www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/health   Information on how carers can look after their nutrition.

 https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/malnutrition-pathway-covid-19-leaflets.html Information leaflets for people who are recovering from coronavirus.

We posted the content of this blog by Gillian McMillan, a registered dietitian in NHS Lanarkshire during dementia awareness week and decided to share it again. We hope you enjoy the blog as much the second time you read it.

Communication is a two-way process

We all need to consider our own communication

• Have we been as clear as possible?

• Is our attitude friendly and helpful?

It’s very important to think about how we communicate with people with dementia. Our own communication style can influence whether communication is successful and pleasurable.

Positive Communication Tips

BEFORE YOU START

▪ Do what you can to address any sensory impairments, such as checking that a hearing aid is working properly, or that glasses are clean.

▪ Consider the environment. Reduce distractions and noise: turn off the radio or TV and if possible, go to a quiet room.

▪ Be at the same physical level, use eye contact, use touch if appropriate to the individual.

▪ Get the person’s attention and introduce yourself. Us their preferred name.

▪ Use a calm & friendly approach.

▪ If you are using PPE explain why and try to choose transparent equipment so your facial expression isn’t hidden.

WHEN YOU ARE TALKING

• Demonstrate kindness and respect through non-verbal communication. The expression on your face and the tone of your voice will convey more than the content of your words.

• Use gestures and visual prompts eg photographs, objects, refer to calendars and maps if talking about dates or places. Discuss headlines and pictures in the news to help the person understand what’s happening in the world.

• Write down important words as you say them to improve understanding and give a way for your loved one to come back to a topic.

▪ Take your time, speaking clearly and slowly. Make only one point at a time.

▪ Use yes/no and choice questions versus open-ended questions eg “Would you like a cup of tea?” Or “Would you like a cup of tea or coffee?” instead of “What would you like to drink?”

▪ Use names and nouns, avoiding pronouns eg say “Sarah” instead of “she”.

▪ Pay attention to the person’s responses and simplify things further or repeat if you need to.

▪ Ensure that the person has enough time to process what you’ve said.

WHEN YOU ARE LISTENING

▪ Listen very carefully. Encourage the person to take their time.

▪ Establish the topic first to know what they’re trying to talk about. “Is this about something you need? No. About a person? Yes. Is it a family member?”

▪ Show the person, through verbal and nonverbal responses, that you are listening and have time for them.

▪ Observe everything the person is communicating non-verbally. Look out for their facial expressions and body language – they may give you ‘clues’ about their feelings and what they want to communicate.

▪ Avoid assumptions; ask the person to confirm if you’re right about any guesses you make about what they are trying to say. Admit when you don’t understand and ask if it’s okay to come back to the idea later.

▪ Encourage them to show you what they mean if they can’t find the words, and to express themselves in their own way eg. gestures, photographs, objects, drawing or writing.

▪ Avoid arguing and confrontation; accept different perceptions of time and reality.

▪ Instead of answering for the person, give time and support to answer. Instead of filling in a word, ask if they want help.

MORE COMMUNICATION TIPS

▪ Be a good model. If you want the person to use gestures, use gestures yourself.

▪ Use timing and rhythm in the interactions, create the feeling of taking turns.

▪ Sing songs together. Search YouTube for the persons favourite songs. Music is powerful!

▪ Use video calling programs like Facetime or Skype to talk instead of just the phone so you don’t miss out on facial expressions and gestures.

▪ Laugh! Laughter is good medicine, so watch funny videos or simply find ways to laugh together.

▪ Reminisce by getting out old photos, telling stories, and reliving easier times in life.

▪ Find new activities that aren’t dependent on communication so you can enjoy being together without the stress or struggle.

▪ Recognise when life gets too frustrating and take a few long, deep breaths together.

▪ Practice gratitude. When life is hardest is when it’s most important to reflect on what you still have, what went well, and what you appreciate.

▪ Take care of yourself. Caregiving is exhausting. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so keep yourself healthy, rested, and supported by your own network as much as possible.

COMMUNICATION IN ADVANCED DEMENTIA

In advanced dementia, the challenge is how to facilitate communication when the person has little or no speech and may only make sounds or repeat isolated words or movements. What we need to remember is that the person will be trying to communicate in other ways.

Get to know the person as much as you can. Try reminiscing about the person’s past.

Talk to them about things of interest.

Take the person’s lead by responding to things they do. This can be by commenting on their actions, joining in with them, playfully imitating them. By responding instead of leading we don’t make demands on the person that they cannot cope with. Instead we communicate that we value them and enjoy being with them.

Treat the things the person does as if this is communication. In this way the person is responded to as a communicator and feels included. For example, when the person looks away perhaps they want a break or need time, when they vocalise they may be seeking a response.

Contributor

Dr Natalie Elliott
National Consultant AHP Lead for Dementia
Based at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board
Wales
@DrNElliott

You can download this resource here

The Life of an Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Link Worker

My name is Karen Dick, until recently I was a part-time Dementia Link Worker in the Forth Valley service of Alzheimer Scotland and a 4th year undergraduate BSc (Honours) student in the Occupational Therapy programme at Glasgow Caledonian University. I wanted to share my experience of being a Link Worker and the important role it has in supporting people post diagnosis.

The first question is…WHAT IS A LINK WORKER?

  • In 2013, the Scottish Government’s National Dementia Strategy set the target that every person with a new diagnosis of dementia in Scotland is entitled to a minimum of one year of Post Diagnostic Support (PDS) from a named person who will work alongside the person and those close to them to ensure they receive support they need. Most of our referrals come from members of the local Community Mental Health Team, Community Psychiatric Nurses and Doctors.

In our rolewe’re guided by Alzheimer Scotland’s five-pillar approach (see the colourful diagram below).

So let’s consider a few ways in which a Dementia Link Worker might influence change…

Understanding the illness and supporting symptomsBecause post diagnostic support can span over the year, we have the time to build a therapeutic relationship with people with dementia and their families; and allow them a chance to chat about their feelings, worries and challenges around their illness.

PDS is all about self-management.The introduction of simple techniques and routines at an early stage in the illness can help people remain independent. For example, would it be useful to have medication in a blister pack as it is easy to check the pack & see if medication has been taken? Keep medication in the same, visible place to help remind you to take your medication and perhaps use a pill reminder as a prompt that it’s time to take those tablets.

Often, we are the only service involved with the person and their family. The building trust and positive regard with our clients often enables us to open doors to other professions such as Allied Health Professional (AHP’s) and social work services. Alzheimer Scotland’s ‘What do AHP’s do?’ was a useful resource that can help explain how the AHP’s can be supportive. See alzscot.org/ahp for more information on allied health professionals in Scotland.

Peer Support

The relationships that we build with people and their families allow us to understand the range of support that people want and match it to create different peer support opportunities. These include weekly drop in cafes (attendance is often over 35 people all chatting loudly!); our monthly ‘Food with Friends’ evening meal or ‘Try Something New’, a chance to learn a new skill such as chair yoga or soft cricket.

Try Something New Group

For several years, the service has also been running a PDS 8-week education group in partnership with the Occupational Therapist’s from the local Community Mental Health Team and Carers’ Centre. The group offers people with dementia and their families the opportunity to cover the 5-pillar model in a relaxed and comfortable environment with all the support that a group entails.

Community Connections

Small changes can have a big impact on the life of a person with dementia and their family. Often people stop or give up on getting out and about when a diagnosis of dementia is given. For example, going to church has become a problem as they have given up driving, in our role we work with the person to look at how they can still get there – another member of the congregation, volunteer services or dial a journey bus!!! As a Link Worker, I’ve supported someone who was keen to try a new activity – one of our Brain Gym’s. I went with them as a familiar face and introduced them to the group. Being able to show them how the service was run, let them see first-hand what it was all about and also provided reassurance they weren’t in the ‘dementia boat’ alone. After an enjoyable group we planned how she would get there each week. The use of a taxi now supports this person attend each week and has allowed her to build the confidence to use the taxi for others outing and not having to rely on family to take her.

Planning for future care and decision making

People often say that they haven’t set up Power of Attorney because “we’re not there yet”.Our role isto explain why it’s a good idea precisely to sort out Power of Attorney when they’re “not there yet” and explain how it safeguards future wishes and preferences.

Giving someone the opportunity to chat about what is important to them if things change with their condition is important allowing them to be involved in decision making around their future. We can also sign post to other services such as welfare benefits and carers services.

Of course, no two people are the same. Some people want to chat through all five pillars: others are really only interested in one or two. The great thing is that we are challenged daily and no two days are ever the same!

As a future Occupational Therapist (I hope) this role has helped me understand the value of client empowerment, person centred care and interprofessional working in achieving positive patient experiences and outcomes!

Contributor

Karen Dick

We have permission for all the photographs from the Alzheimer Scotland service in Falkirk 

This blog was written prior to COVID19

If you require support at this time from an Alzheimer Scotland, please go to our main website at www.alzscot.org or contact our 24 hour Freephone Dementia Helpline