Human Rights Are Not an Abstract Concept

Human Rights are inalienable to each and every person. They cannot be given to us. But they can be obstructed or restricted by a number of factors, some unintentional. As part of World Alzheimer’s Month, Owen Miller, Policy Officer at Alzheimer Scotland explores how rights can be applied in practice to improve the lives of people with dementia and carers.

Every day we exercise our Human Rights in a number of ways, so much so that we take them for granted. Our communication, our choices and our actions are human rights playing out in practice. They are fundamental to who we are as individuals and allow us to play active roles in the societies in which we live, take part in activities we enjoy and go about our lives in a way which is meaningful to us.


But too often people with dementia find their rights restricted by the stigma which often surrounds their condition. Assumptions are made about a person’s capacity to make decisions. Risk-aversion becomes standard practice. Attention turns to what a person cannot do rather than what they can. These often come about as a result of circumstances in which well-meaning attempts are made to protect the person from harm or do what is perceived to be in a person’s best interests. However, it is often the case that doing so fundamentally fails to respect the person as someone with unique experiences, interests and abilities, who can still actively and meaningfully engage with their community.

The PANEL (Participation, Accountability, Non-Discrimination, Empowerment and Legality) principles provide a strong framework for ensuring that a rights-based approach is taken in in practice. This can be applied in a range of contexts and settings from the way an individual is treated as the result of stigma up to the highest level of decision making on health and social care services.

Alzheimer Scotland’s public policy work is grounded in a rights-based approach at both a national and local level. A fundamental part of this which involves ensuring that the views and experience of people with dementia, their families and carers, underpin our own internal policy development, e.g. our 8 Pillars Model of Community Support, Advanced Dementia Practice Model and also to our new developing AHP policy called “Connecting People, Connecting Support” which will be ready in the next few months.

Externally, the Scottish Dementia Working Group (SDWG) and the National Dementia Carers Action Network (NDCAN) are well established national groups which have led the way in showing how involvement can work. Both groups meet with Scottish Ministers and civil servants to discuss issues which matter to them and have been involved in the development and implementation of Scotland’s dementia strategies. They have also informed national training programmes such as the Promoting Excellence Framework and worked with academic institutions to share their experiences with nursing and Allied Health Professional students to raise awareness of future generations of practitioners.

More recently local groups are now coming together, looking to shape their local communities in a number of different ways, including, through engaging with local decision makers within Integrated Joint Boards, but also with local businesses and organisations to make them more Dementia Friendly and by working with local schools to raise awareness of dementia amongst younger people.

People with dementia and their carers have time and again shown us their commitment to working and supporting policy, strategy and their communities, to ensure that their experiences drives improvements.

There exists a common perception that Human Rights are abstract concepts which exist only in the domain of legal professionals and policy makers, with no bearing on real life. This is demonstrably untrue – we need everyone working across health, social care, housing and within communities whether in the statutory, third and independent sectors to support involvement and engagement in a meaningful way. When given the opportunity, people with dementia and their carers are more than able and willing to exercise their Human Rights in meaningful and affirming way.

Thank you for taking the time to reading my blog, all comments or opinions are welcome.

This blog is an amended version of a blog which was initially written for the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations’ (SCVO) #RightApproach campaign. It can be viewed here.

owen-miller-2-convertimageOwen Miller

Policy Officer, Alzheimer Scotland

Owen works in Alzheimer Scotland within the Policy Team and has previously worked within the Focus on Dementia improvement programme on a seconded basis. His role focuses on stakeholder engagement at a national level, including developments in policy, strategy and legislation by the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government, helping to ensure that they are shaped by the experience and voices of people, their families and carers.

“A Day in the Life of Marianne”

Photographing Meaningful Occupation Project

One key part of my occupational therapy internship over the summer was working with the Scottish Dementia Working Group, @S_D_W_G. Along with my colleague Rachel @RachelstudentOT we were using images to share the importance of occupation and everyday activities to living well with dementia.  However before I started I wanted to understand what I was asking the group member to do and decided to make myself the “pilot” for the project.  This blog shares with you what I did.

The aim of my pilot was to participate in my own photograph project and to take pictures throughout a summers day that showed:

  • What is important to me?
  • What my own meaningful occupations are.
  • What a day in the life of an occupational therapy intern looks like.

My plan was to take the camera with me throughout the day and take photographs of things that caught my eye, and what I deemed were my own “meaningful occupations”.

Before I started, I was inspired when I had asked some young friends the week before (aged 7 – 14years old) to do a similar thing throughout a day trip. Through their participation, I had realised how much they had enjoyed taking photographs and that there was variety to their images. They had freely taken pictures of anything and everything throughout the day, with no thought or consideration to what they photographed. I was keen to also try and capture this aspect of freedom. I wanted the photographs that I took to represent me without too much thought, consideration and caution.

I took the camera with me throughout the day and took photographs of whatever took my eye and whatever I think gave an idea and suggestion of me as a person. I felt that throughout the process I began to get more involved and I would see things and I would think about how / why they were important to me.

The result was a catalogue of 76 photographs that I distilled down into 18 photographs. These were the 18 significant photographs that I felt documented my day effectively and showed insights into me as a person. To these 18 photographs I added “my voice” and shared them on Twitter on with various hashtags (#s) such as #OTIntern #importanttome #photoproject #dayinthelife.

Throughout the Project

As the day progressed I realised that I could take pictures of anything and as I went on I realised I was looking around and finding lots of images / aspects that provoked memories and ideas that I linked with being ‘meaningful’ to me. For example; when seeing the bunch of flowers I was reminded of my first paid employment whilst I was still a teenager. This reminded me not only on my love for flowers but also love of creating beautiful arrangements for others. These trails of thought surrounded each photograph I took and as the day went along I began to take more and more pictures of things / objects that related to aspects of me that I may not have considered in a long time. I felt like in taking these photographs I was allowing myself to truly document “me” and provide images to what is my own “story”.

Through undertaking this pilot I felt that I was able to show real aspects of my life that without the camera I would never have commented on. My cups of tea / motto for the day / my home mat all show aspects of my life that I would never vocalise as important, but through photographs I was able to do this. This gave me a real insight into not only what were “meaningful occupations” to me, but that aspects which I may have considered trivial or of no importance actual hold great significance when considering my own identity.

Final Thoughts

Conducting my own photograph project was a valuable experience as it gave an insight into what we were asking members of the SDWG to be involved in. It also provided me with the confidence needed in using the camera and not being focussed on the quality of the image produced. It made me realise that through taking the photographs we were providing a way for the members of the SDWG to tell us their own story and document what was important to them.

I hope you enjoy my favourite 18 photos from my day and if you were asked

  • What is important to you?
  • What are your own meaningful occupations?

What photographs would you take?

“A Day in the Life of Marianne”




Thank you for reading my blog


Marianne Wallace: Marianne-Profile-Picture-ConvertImageOccupational Therapy Intern


Marianne graduated from Aberdeen University with a Psychology degree and spent 6 years working with the National Autistic Society. After initially working as a support worker, Marianne was involved in creating and delivering a social communication program called “Transitions”. Marianne has just finished her first year of a MSc Occupational Therapy (Pre Reg) programme at Queen Margaret University and is working as an Occupational Therapy Intern with Alzheimer Scotland. As an Occupational Therapy student her desire is to contribute and be involved with other people’s journeys.

Occupational Therapy Students become Dementia Friends

pic 1 In 2015 a strategic alliance between Queen Margaret University (QMU), Edinburgh and Alzheimer Scotland was created, formalizing a partnership between the two organisations that had been working in successful collaboration for several years prior to this. The overarching aim of this alliance is to improve the care and quality of life for people living with dementia and their carers through developing innovative and robust learning opportunities for healthcare students studying at Queen Margaret University. Asked about the strategic alliance Ian McMillan, Head of Division for Occupational Therapy and Arts Therapies at Queen Margaret University explained, “(at QMU) we are very serious about educating our students about the wider considerations of dementia.  All allied health professionals in employment will, at some point, work with people with dementia, as well as their families and carers. By working with Alzheimer Scotland we can equip our students to better understand people’s needs and to work much more effectively in the changing landscape of health and social care in Scotland” (QMU 2015, P.1).

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A number of Dementia Friends sessions have been held at the university, with the aim of equipping the future workforce with the valuable knowledge and skills for interacting and working with people with dementia that these sessions provide. Having become a Dementia Friend myself during my 2015 occupational therapy internship with Alzheimer Scotland, QMU and Santander Universities, I was aware of how useful the sessions were, and was keen to offer my fellow occupational therapy students an opportunity to become Dementia Friends themselves.

With the help of academic staff, I discovered that there was significant interest in becoming Dementia Friends from occupational therapy students across the undergraduate programme, so I made contact with Anne McWhinney, Dementia Friends Programme Manager at Alzheimer Scotland, and we arranged for three sessions to be held for occupational therapy students at QMU on 14th March 2016. The sessions were well attended and received and there were 34 new Dementia Friends by the end of the day as a result.

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Q & A with a recent occupational therapy graduate

I completed a short interview with a recent QMU occupational therapy graduate, Kirsty Daly, who attended one of the Dementia Friends sessions in March, in order to gain some insight into her experience of taking part in the session.

Q: What level of dementia experience did you have prior to becoming a Dementia Friend?

A: I had very limited experience in working with this client group as none of my practice placements had been within a dementia setting. I had come across people with dementia during placements, but had never worked specifically with this client group.

Q: Why did you decide to sign up for the Dementia Friends session?

A: I am always interested in broadening my knowledge, and having had no specific placement in a dementia based setting, but still coming into contact with people with dementia indicated to me how important it is to understand dementia regardless of the practice setting. I felt that taking part in the session would be of benefit to me and the people who I would be working with as a qualified occupational therapist in the future.

Q: What did you know about Dementia Friends prior to taking part in the session?

A: I had heard of Dementia Friends from friends and classmates, but didn’t know exactly what was involved.

Q: What did you learn from the session?

A: I learned loads as a result of becoming a Dementia Friend. Some learning points that stood out for me were: how small tasks that we often take for granted can pose a difficult challenge for people with dementia; the importance of patience when communicating and working with a person with dementia, and the difference that this can make to the individual; and that reality for a person with dementia can be very different to what I might be experiencing.

Q: Did anything surprise you during the session?

A: Anne gave a ‘real-life’ example about a gentleman with dementia who had developed a fear of going into the bathroom in his home and his loved ones could not work out why this was. After spending some time with the gentleman and allowing him the time to explain the problem, the practitioner and his family established that a large mirror in the bathroom was causing him distress as he did not recognise his reflection, leading him to believe that there was a stranger in the room (I know I wouldn’t want to use my bathroom with a stranger in there!). Removing the mirror allowed the gentleman to enter the bathroom without becoming distressed, and use the bathroom facilities independently. I felt that this was a brilliant example of how a small change can make a huge positive difference to the life of a person with dementia.

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Q: Has becoming a Dementia Friend been beneficial to you as an occupational therapy professional?

A: Yes, the innovative and interactive methods used to deliver the session provided me with a deeper understanding of what it might be like to live with dementia. In turn, when working with people with dementia I will have a more holistic understanding of what they might be experiencing and why they might be doing and saying certain things.

Q: Would you recommend becoming a Dementia Friends to your friends and colleagues?

A: Yes! The session was really interesting and good fun. I would recommend becoming a Dementia Friend to students, professionals and the general public.

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Thank you for reading our blog and what would you answer if asked Would you recommend becoming a Dementia Friends to your friends and colleagues? “

For more information on Dementia Friends sessions can be found at the Dementia Friends Scotland website:

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pic-7-ConvertImageLynsey Robertson-Flannigan: Occupational Therapist

I recently graduated from Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh with a BSc (Hons) in Occupational Therapy. Throughout my studies and my adult life I have had a specific interest in dementia and was lucky enough to complete an internship in 2015 with Alzheimer Scotland, Queen Margaret University and Santander Universities. This internship provided countless opportunities to broaden my knowledge and understanding of dementia and I loved every minute of it. I am currently in the process of becoming an occupational therapy volunteer for Alzheimer Scotland. I hope to secure an occupational therapy position in a dementia-based setting in early 2017, having had some time off with my baby who was born at the end of July this year.


Kirsty Daley : Occupational Therapist

@ kirsty_d_103

I recently qualified as an occupational therapist, graduating with a BSc (Hons) in occupational therapy from Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh in July 2016. I am currently taking a month out to travel around Canada before beginning my first post as a Band 5 community occupational therapist with NHS Lothian, working in older peoples’ mental health.


“Scrapbooks of our lives”

Defining who we are & bringing families and loved ones together

Henry Rankin (Chair of the Scottish Dementia Working Group) wanted to share the following speech that he and his daughter Kirsty gave together at a Forget Me Not ball. Henry stated that the Forget Me Not ball was a fabulous night which he thoroughly enjoyed because it makes you feel like there is something special going on. The speech takes the form of a conversation between Henry and his daughter as they come to terms with his diagnosis of dementia.

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Henry: Dementia affects families in different ways. Through my work with the Scottish Dementia Working Group (SDWG) I have had the pleasure of meeting many people with dementia and each has their own story to share. I too have my own story and my daughter Kirsty and I would like to share our journey with you.

There are many points during your life that make you realise how precious the simplest things are. Take memories for example, every day we say and do things that make up the scrapbooks of our lives.

These scrapbooks define who we are and bring families and loved ones together. But what happens if we lose our scrapbook?

Do we struggle and spend the rest of our days looking to find those pages, grasping on to our past, or do you start a new scrapbook and look to the future?

The truth is, the old book may define who we were but the new one can define who we are now, but more importantly, can you have one without the other?

Kirsty: Each click of the camera captures a second of our life, for that one second when the photo is taken we bank this into our scrapbook. Looking back not only do you see where you were but you suddenly remember how you were feeling. Pictures are more than just still shots of our life, they are moments in time so special that we feel the urge to hold on to them forever.

Henry: With each day that comes I hold onto my scrapbook, frightened that these snap shots of my life are slipping away.

Kirsty: I like to carry my scrapbook as I never want to miss a moment with you. I have come to realise that my scrapbook has now become yours Dad, but without your book mine wouldn’t exist.

Take points in our life Dad, my wedding for one, I can spend hours looking at the picture of you walking me down the aisle. I know how I felt at the time just by looking at the picture.

Henry: I too can look at the picture but it’s not about the details, what I can tell you is that day you made me the proudest man, I have never seen such a beautiful bride. Walking down the aisle and giving you away will forever be embedded in my heart.

Kirsty: What about the picture of us in St. Andrews on the beach?

Henry: I may not remember how many years ago that was but I know in my heart that St. Andrews is a special place for us and when I think of St. Andrews I don’t think about that one moment, I think about the family as a whole. Your mum, Craig, Shona and us laughing and I think about you cheating at cards – you are the only girl I know that can shout ‘Rumie’ straight after you have been dealt the cards.

Kirsty: I was once told that if you make memories no one can take them away. Is this true for you Dad?

If you don’t remember has someone taken them away, if so where are they now?

I hope that deep inside they are imbedded into your being for then I know you haven’t lost me and I haven’t lost you.

Memory is your way of holding onto all of the things that you love, the things that you are and the things you don’t want to lose. And I don’t want to lose you.

Henry: You haven’t lost me. The true value of our moments will be there after undergoing the test of memories. Memories are not just banked into your scrapbook, truly important memories go straight into my heart. I might not be able to let you know or talk about it but please be reassured that no one can take my heart.

Kirsty: I have come to realise that it is not what is in the scrapbook that matters. We can spend our days looking at pictures from the past and worrying about what pictures will be there in the future but I have come to realise that all we are doing is missing our moments just now.

Henry: I do worry about forgetting all the things I have done.

Kirsty: It’s not the things you have done it’s the effects that it has today.

Henry: What about everything I have learned and then forgotten?

Kirsty: It can’t be about what you have learned, but how you have applied it throughout your life.

Henry: What about all the things that I have said?

Kirsty: If you were to take words, surely it is not what was said but how each sentence made those around you feel.

Henry: Each day I make memories and each day some are lost. But losing them does not mean that I have lost you.

Kirsty: If you don’t remember, I will. For what you have given me I will cherish. I have learned from you and followed your example.

You have given your memories that have once moulded you but will in turn mould me.

So I have put away my scrapbook and started to live, for I can remember not to forget.

I don’t need a book, for I see you every time I look in the mirror. And trust me, a scrapbook can’t show how brave I think you are, how strong I think you are or how smart I think you are. I know that even if we were apart and the fog has settled in, I will always be with you tucked away somewhere in your scrapbook and somewhere in mine.

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Thank you very much to Henry for generously sharing not only this speech but also the experiences that are behind it and have formed it.

If you have any thoughts or feelings about their speech and blog post, please leave a comment.


pic-3-ConvertImageHenry Rankin

Scottish Dementia Working Group (SDWG)


I have been the Chairperson of the SDWG since 2012. At the SDWG we set our aims, objectives and key priorities each year and are involved in many projects to work towards these.

Connecting People, Connecting Support – @AHPdementia on Instagram


This summer one of the projects that I am working on as Alzheimer Scotland Occupational Therapy intern is developing the use of the @AHPdementia Instagram account. Readers of this blog will be used to Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) sharing their work, knowledge and raising awareness of their different roles within dementia care and practice. The @AHPdementia Instagram is being used in a similar way, only in a slightly different format to a blog.

Instagram is a social media website and mobile app that allows users to share images and short videos. Instagram recently reached 500 million users, 14 million of which are in the UK. Instagram is currently being used by different groups and social movements to challenge attitudes and try to reduce stigma of certain conditions. For example, there are many campaigns aimed at reducing the stigma surrounding mental health conditions but there are also many dementia and Alzheimer groups posting regularly on Instagram to share their work.

AHPdementia already has an online presence on Twitter where the hashtag #AHPdementia is used by many people from different AHPs to share their work and start conversations about the roles of AHPs. The @AHPdementia Instagram account forms another strand of this social media presence sharing work, advice and information to living well with dementia.

Photographs are being posted on the @AHPdementia Instagram account accompanied by a short occupation-focused description to emphasise the importance of occupation to living well with dementia. It’s not just about Occupational Therapy though as the Instagram account will be used by other AHP professions who can post information that highlights the role of their own professions within dementia. Each post has a range of hashtags related to dementia but also what is visible in the photo, the aim of this is to increase the potential reach of the photo and accompanying information to a wider audience.

If you want to learn more about the work of Allied Health Professionals within dementia make sure to follow @AHPdementia on Instagram. Like or comment on posts to let us know what you think.

Here are some example posts:

Discovering the past, peeling back the layers – Talking to a person with dementia and finding out about their life history can help to build a picture of them and provide insight into which activities (or occupations) are meaningful to them. People are motivated to engage in occupations that have personal significance to them. (adapted from Pool 2012) Raising awareness and sharing knowledge. Please leave a comment if you have learnt something about dementia… #dementia #DementiaFriends #alzheimer #alzheimersawareness #dementiaawareness #occupationaltherapy #occupation #livingwell #mentalhealth #wellbeing #lifestory #history #livedexperience #pavement #street #paving #grey #layers #personwithdementia #OTintern

A photo posted by Allied Health Professionals (@ahpdementia) on

Journeys – A day in the life of an Alzheimer Scotland Occupational Therapy Intern. We look forward to attending meetings with the Scottish Dementia Working Group who have a wealth of experience – we learn about how they are living well with dementia and how maintaining engagement in occupation and activities can be central to this. Though we also learn how people living with dementia in this group know that they can still do so many things but sometimes other people’s expectations or assumptions of their abilities are lower than the reality. Raising awareness and sharing knowledge. Please leave a comment if you have learnt something about dementia… #dementia #dementiaawareness #alzheimer #alzheimersawareness #stigma #occupationaltherapy #OTintern #occupation #activity #wellbeing #livingwellwithdementia #livingwell #AHPdementia #journey #train #fields #trees #bridges #bridge #glasgow #clyde #green #countryside #country #nofilter

A photo posted by Allied Health Professionals (@ahpdementia) on

Summer sun – Drinking more water in warm weather is important to stay hydrated. This can be difficult for people with dementia for many reasons (eg. communication or memory difficulties). Making sure food and drink is visible and available whenever someone is hungry or thirsty could help to maintain good nutrition – eg. using a clear jug with coloured fluid. (adapted from NES dementia skilled practice) Raising awareness as sharing knowledge. Please leave a comment if you have learnt something about dementia… #dementia #dementiaawareness #alzheimer #alzheimersawareness #occupation #occupationaltherapy #mentalhealth #physicalhealth #hydration #heatwave #britishsummer #trees #sunshine #shadows #bunting #eveningsun

A photo posted by Allied Health Professionals (@ahpdementia) on



Each post has a question inviting all the readers to leave a comment if you have learnt something new about dementia which we invite you to do too

Thank you reading my blog

Rachel Bew: IMG_20160628_102236084-ConvertImageOccupational Therapy Intern

I am a post graduate Occupational Therapy student at Queen Margaret University (QMU). I am an Occupational Therapy intern with Alzheimer Scotland, in partnership with QMU, for summer 2016 where I will be working with the Scottish Dementia Working Group to help change the face of dementia and use social media, such as instagram, to raise awareness.

Leading ‘Pocket Ideas – A moment in time’ has been a bit of a roller coaster!

Looking back over the past 18 months sometimes it has felt like a slow climb to achieve a planned goal, and then sometimes everything moves so fast without a chance to put on the brakes and catch your breath!

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Now that I have the opportunity to sit back and think, it really is a time to gather my thoughts and reflect on what I have learned on this incredible roller coaster. I say incredible because it has been! From the support gained from a wide range of staff to the experiences I have gained as project lead.

Image by Guy Hinks. Andrea Boyd. See copyright and usage clauses of the metadata. Pocket Ideas Book Launch NHSAAA

Image by Guy Hinks. Andrea Boyd.
See copyright and usage clauses of the metadata. Pocket Ideas Book Launch NHSAAA

My project lead post started in the middle of September 2014, and that particular week I also excitedly and nervously began my MSc in Later Life studies at UWS. Add to that, our Activity Team won ‘Best Acute Care Initiative’ at the Scottish Dementia Awards. As a team we had a lot to celebrate, but even with a positive stamp of approval there was still a lot of work to be done.

In the early days of the project journey a ‘Project Charter’ was developed to consider the plans for the forthcoming months, and to keep in line with expectations outlined in our endowment bid. The roller coaster had started and I had jumped on with enthusiasm, passion and determination!

At this stage the project was still a prototype and there was ongoing evaluation using PDSA principles which assisted with design and development of the project. Five pilot sites were chosen across Ayrshire to incorporate 3 acute wards and assessment wards for older people with organic illness e.g. dementia. All wards embraced the project idea. Time was spent on the wards to introduce the prototype to staff, encourage them to use it, and to support the evaluation process. Having learned from our initial pilot in Pavilion 3, a more robust evaluation tool was developed with the support of Clinical Effectiveness and Scottish Health Innovations

Useful feedback was received from the pilot sites and included;

“Easy to implement simple ideas to engage clients.”

“Word games got a lot of patients talking about their life history.”

“Great way to stimulate memory.”

“‘Pocket Ideas’ provided lots of simple, easy to remember conversation starters that are helpful when speaking to patients with dementia.” and

“Great for the patients instead of them watching T.V all day.”

During the pilot the Activity Team worked closely with the Communications Department and particularly Emma Lehane-Allan our graphic designer who persevered with the many drafts of the project as it began to take shape. She really did a marvellous job!! Every draft was viewed by our Activity Team, and the many staff that supported the project as it evolved.

As a team we wanted to ensure the project could be spread and sustained, so it was agreed that Champions would be recruited. Our team set ourselves a mission to recruit Champions wherever we went, and to date we have Champions in North, East and South Ayrshire, and across Scotland too!! Staff have really embraced the project due to its simplicity and as a result meaningful conversations are happening with our older people! Many thanks to all our Champions!!

Image by Guy Hinks. Ayrshire Achieves Awards 2015 at Ayr Hospital

Image by Guy Hinks.
Ayrshire Achieves Awards 2015 at Ayr Hospital

After so many project drafts (I think we all lost count), we reached the final pilot stage. A focussed period to look at the final product before heading to the professional printers. This was a very exciting stage, we had finally climbed that steep hill of achievement, and it was incredible to have the final draft in our hands! The feedback was extremely positive, and then it was all systems go to the printers. Our Activity Team were then fortunate enough to attend Ayrshire Achieves 2015, where we gained another award; ‘Light bulb moments-creativity and innovation’. Another fabulous achievement for the team

Image by Guy Hinks. See copyright and usage clauses of the metadata. Pocket Ideas Book Launch NHSAAA

Image by Guy Hinks.
See copyright and usage clauses of the metadata.
Pocket Ideas Book Launch NHSAAA

While the books were being printed, it was full speed ahead to the launch, so no time to put the brakes on that roller coaster! The launch took place at the Park Hotel, Kilmarnock on 4th September 2015 and was attended by 200 delegates from Ayrshire and across Scotland. The day was filled with inspirational speakers, stall holders and experiential workshops. At the end of the day Centre Stage having led one of the workshops finished the day with singing, dancing and the finale of ‘ Auld Lang Syne’. It was an amazing day and each delegate took away their own copy of Pocket Ideas and additional copies for those who signed up as Champions. We still need Champions to support and sustain the project, so if you haven’t become a Champion already, please get in touch to find out more and come along to a Champions Network Forum.

Image by Guy Hinks. Speakers with Andrea Boyd in middle.  See copyright and usage clauses of the metadata. Pocket Ideas Book Launch NHSAAA.

Image by Guy Hinks. Speakers with Andrea Boyd in middle.
See copyright and usage clauses of the metadata.
Pocket Ideas Book Launch NHSAAA.

Post launch the focus has been on the impact of Pocket Ideas. Evaluation questionnaires have revealed the following themes; person centred, communication, engagement in meaningful activities, increased confidence and getting to know patients, distraction from distressed behaviour, good size and useful resource, reduction of boredom, supports therapeutic relationships, sharing good practice, reduction of isolation and improvement in assessment.

Champions have been encouraged to consider real time questions to support the evaluation as well as sharing any case studies. Filming has been used to score interventions with and without the use of Pocket Ideas. The results have supported the theory that Pocket Ideas encourages person centred care through meaningful engagement.

Overall the impact in Ayrshire and across Scotland has been amazing. More people know about the project and would like to access it, and my request list continues to grow! The pdf is now available here and a route for organisations to purchase their own hard copies is being considered. Our next books ordered are for Ayrshire and Arran so watch this space!

So along the rollercoaster journey what have I learned? Most of all I have learned the importance of believing in yourself, as if you can do that, you can do anything! My role has been about leadership supported by my fabulous Activity Team, and so many other staff members.  It has taught me that leadership is about having a clear vision, a goal to achieve with the passion to do it, and that with this you need to nurture, support and encourage the team supporting you to achieve your goal.

So what next? I have returned to my clinical role with a continued and passionate interest in meaningful activity. I will continue to raise the awareness of Pocket Ideas and hopefully help to embed the project as part of our everyday practice!

A final thought, as most people who know me also know that I love inspirational quotes, so here it is;

“To dream anything that you want to dream. That’s the beauty of the human mind. To do anything that you want to do. That is the strength of the human will. To trust yourself to test your limits. That is the courage to succeed.” Bernard Edmonds

Many thanks to everyone who has supported Pocket Ideas

This blog was also posted on AHPScot blog on the 20th June 2016

AndreaAndrea Boyd

Occupational Therapist, NHS Ayrshire and Arran


I am currently on secondment and leading up the project ‘Pocket Ideas…for a moment in time’. I have been an Occupational Therapist for many years, but this is such an exciting opportunity to continue with the development of our person centred tool with the support of my ‘Activity Team’.

Allied Health Professionals Maximising Physical Wellbeing



IMG_2666It is vital that radiographers and other members of the radiographic workforce are able to understand and support the needs of people with dementia and their carers. Not only is this because all patients are entitled to the best possible, personalised care but, vitally, understanding and meeting the care needs of people with dementia will ensure the best outcomes from imaging and radiotherapy. (Freeman 2015). To support this I am delighted to share in this week blog “what is a radiographer” with more follow up blogs later

A Radiographer is an Allied Health Professional (AHP), who can be found in either the X-ray Department or Radiotherapy Department of your local Hospital. We work as part of a team with Nursing and Healthcare Support Workers. There are two types of Radiographer:

Diagnostic Radiographer

When visiting an X-ray department you may have an X-ray, or one of the following scans CT, MRI or Ultrasound, Nuclear Medicine, performed by a Diagnostic Radiographer. We can also provide a large range of treatments which may reduce the need for surgery. The Radiographer may also have the role of providing the formal result issued to your doctor after the scan or x-ray has taken place.

2016-08-04-PHOTO-00000655Therapeutic Radiographer

When undergoing treatment at your local Radiotherapy Centre you will encounter the Therapeutic Radiographer. It is their role to work as part of an oncology team, specialising in the planning and administration of radiotherapy treatment for patients, most of whom have cancer. Using a wide range of technical equipment the radiographer delivers accurate doses of radiation to the tumour to destroy the diseased tissue, while minimising the amount of radiation to surrounding healthy tissue.

How CAN a Radiographer help YOU?

It may be the case that at some point in your life you will have the need to visit one of the departments listed above and as such it is important to understand the role of the radiographer and how they can be of help to you.

Whether radiographers are playing a part in finding out what is wrong with individuals or providing treatment, it is essential that we have your co-operation. Our role usually involves positioning patients in a particular way using equipment that can seem intimidating. Communication is KEY to ensuring that this is performed with ease.

Often there can be barriers to communication with conditions such as Dementia. In this case it is helpful to make the radiographers aware of any challenges that you or your relative may have that would make it difficult for the tests or treatment to be completed to the highest standard.

Radiographers would welcome the expertise of any relatives or carers who are accompanying patients to ensure you have a timely and positive experience within our departments. If there are any adjustments that can be made prior to arrival for an appointment then please call ahead and speak to staff who will try their best to accommodate any specific requests. Your visit to the x-ray or radiotherapy department may lead to future hospital appointments and radiographers would welcome the opportunity to make your hospital experience as comfortable as possible.

Caring for People with Dementia

To support ALL the radiography workforce our professional body developed a clinical practice guideline for the radiography workforce (imaging and radiotherapy). This is a comprehensive set of evidence-based recommendations for the whole radiographic workforce caring for people with dementia and their carers when undergoing imaging and/or radiotherapy. The guideline has recommendations for good practice for individual members of the radiographic workforce, service managers, academic institutions and the Society and College of Radiographers (SCoR).

IMG_2667The document contains recommendations under 7 themes in the following areas:

  1. The practice environment –acknowledging the need for special provision;
  2. Building relationships with patients and carers to optimise the patient experience;
  3. Strategies for optimising communication with people with dementia and their carers;
  4. Understanding patients’ behaviour and adopting positive ways to reduce distressed reactions;
  5. Carer involvement;
  6. Staff skills and attitudes;
  7. Training needs.

You can see a copy of the full guidelines here and I will blog again on this and the “day in the life of a radiographer” later this year.

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Thank you for reading my blog and please leave any questions or comments.

Also please log on to the Society of Radiographers website for more information

2016-08-04-PHOTO-00000655Caroline Handley, Lead Radiographer / Secretary of Scottish Council of Radiographers

Lead Radiographer within the Imaging Department of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow. I am a Diagnostic Radiographer who on a daily basis ensures the smooth running of the Imaging Department.