Allied Health Professionals: Enhancing Everyday Living

Becky Field (Researcher, PhD student and Occupational Therapist) attended and gave a presentation at this year’s 26th Alzheimer Europe Conference #26AEC. In this week’s blog Becky shares her highlights from the conference and a bit about her PhD study.

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I attended the 26th Alzheimer Europe Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark (31 October–2 November 2016) http://www.alzheimer-europe.org/Conferences/2016-Copenhagen. The theme of the conference was “excellence in dementia research and care”. It was great to learn about research and service developments across Europe. My personal highlights from the conference were:

  • Hearing from people living with dementia and their caregivers, reminding us what an important contribution they can and do make to research and services.
  • Learning about the work going on in Scotland to develop and deliver post diagnostic support services; great to hear about how it happens, and that post diagnostic support is offered to everyone with a diagnosis of dementia; also to hear about Allied Health Professional roles in dementia services. You can find out more about this work here: http://Alzscot.org http://alzscot.org/talking-dementia

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Photograph of Becky Field pictured with colleague, Jacki Stansfeld, PhD student University College London, researcher North East London Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust

The presentation I gave was called ‘Psychosocial Interventions: identifying influences on take up’. This was based on interviews carried out with people living with dementia and their family carers about experiences of participating in a community occupational therapy intervention which is part of the ‘Valuing Active Life in Dementia (VALID)’ research study. The ‘Valuing Active Life in Dementia’ research study is evaluating the effectiveness of a community occupational therapy intervention (COTiD-UK) for people with mild to moderate dementia living in the community and their family carers.

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more information about VALID study please see https://www.ucl.ac.uk/valid

In my presentation I shared my PhD research where I am trying to identify influences on why people may or may not accept offers of psychosocial interventions and feel ready to engage in them. This is because government policy recommends post-diagnostic support and psychosocial interventions, and there is a growing evidence to support the benefits of these interventions. Yet, there is little research about what may help or prevent people from engaging in such interventions to inform development of post diagnostic services. From analysing interviews with people living with dementia and their family carers, I found that wanting support, valuing activity and routine, struggling to adjust to the diagnosis or cope with symptoms were all key influences on take up of this occupational therapy intervention. I hope my doctoral research can contribute to these developments.

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After the conference and in doing my PhD I have been thinking about how can Occupational Therapists, and services in general, enable people with dementia’s engagement in occupational therapy and participation in their everyday lives, taking into account the challenges living with dementia can often bring?

Some people with dementia and their family carers may feel differently to each other, some may want support, others may not or feel uncertain, at least at the time it is offered…if people say no to intervention or services, how can we best respond?

On reflection

Thank you for reading my blog and I would welcome to hear your ideas and thoughts to…

How should we respond when a person living with dementia and or family carer, say NO to engaging in an occupational therapy intervention or your service?

Get in touch

If you would like more information about my doctoral research please do get in touch b.field@sheffield.ac.uk.

My PhD is supported by the VALID research study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Programme Grants for Applied Research, grant number RP-PG 0610-10108)

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As part of the conference I also attended the Interdem Academy Master class: ‘Involving people with dementia as advisors to your research. You can find out about Interdem here http://interdem.org/?page_id=4636

 

 

 

pic-6-convertimageBecky Field: Occupational Therapist

I am an occupational therapist and worked in community brain injury rehab before completing an MSc Clinical Research in 2012. As a researcher my role involves recruiting people with dementia and their family carers and carrying out interviews (outcome measures) that will be used to help evaluate the effectiveness of the occupational therapy intervention. I also help manage the study at the Sheffield site, ensuring clinical trial procedures are adhered to, and helped run and analyse focus groups with people with dementia and their family carers, that helped develop the intervention.

Parkinson’s disease with dementia

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There are many kinds of dementia but the most common is Alzheimer’s disease. Other kinds of dementia include vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementias (including Pick’s disease) and alcohol-related dementias. It is also possible to have more than one type of dementia; for example Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.

This week’s blog shares with you information on Parkinson’s disease with dementia . There are links at the end of the blog to other Alzheimer Scotland information sheets on some of the more common types of dementia

About the condition

Parkinson’s dementia is a condition that some people can experience as their Parkinson’s progresses. It affects thinking and memory and can have a big impact on different aspects of life. Dementia symptoms are caused by a significant loss of brain function. There are different forms of the condition and each person will experience dementia in their own way.

There is a similar condition called dementia with Lewy bodies. Dementia-like symptoms may be caused by other problems, like depression or side effects of medication. It is important to discuss these with the GP or Parkinson’s nurse, who would be able to help.

Changes that might happen

Everyone experiences Parkinson’s dementia in different ways. Symptoms can include:

  • memory problems, concentration and slow thought processes
  • communication and finding the right word and names can be a problem
  • decision making, planning activities or solving problems
  • everyday activities such a dressing, cooking and shopping
  • changes in appetite, energy levels and sleeping patterns. This can affect motivation and interest in things they previously enjoyed
  • depression and anxiety. Some people may find it difficult to control their emotions
  • visual hallucinations and delusions, which can be managed with medication.

Things to consider

Any symptom should be discussed with the GP. Early diagnosis is crucially important, in order to access the right medication and support, and to plan for the future. There is no cure for dementia, but the symptoms can be managed.

Medication

After a diagnosis of Parkinson’s dementia, the GP or Parkinson’s nurse may review the Parkinson’s medication, as some side effects may make dementia symptoms worse. Sometimes it is necessary to find a balance between controlling the Parkinson’s and the dementia symptoms.

Help from other professionals

There are other professionals who can help. The GP or Parkinson’s nurse can refer patients to Physiotherapists, Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Dieticians and Social Workers. They can also provide information about local services.

Legal matters

If diagnosed with Parkinson’s dementia, the person may want to make some important decisions about the future, regarding finances and preferences on medical and social care. They may also want to choose someone to handle their affairs, and make this a legal agreement, such as a Power of Attorney.

Caring for someone with Parkinson’s dementia

Someone diagnosed with Parkinson’s dementia may need support from family and friends with things like shopping, housework and cooking. In this case, the person with dementia will be entitled to receive Attendance Allowance or Personal Independent Payment (PIP), which will help provide some financial support.

If someone is dedicating a lot of time providing support as an unpaid carer, they may be entitled to claim Carer’s Allowance

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog and we hope you find the information helpful. You can download the full information sheet here:

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Useful information

Parkinson’s UK –Dementia and Parkinson’s:

www.parkinsons.org.uk/dementia

Carers UK

www.carersuk.org

Tel: 0808 808 7777

Email: adviceline@carersuk.org

Parkinson’s UK – Helpline:

Tel: 0808 800 0303

Monday to Friday: 9am-7pm,

Saturday: 10am-2pm (Closed Sundays/Bank Holidays)

Email: hello@parkinsons.org.uk

Alzheimer Scotland information sheets on some of the more common types of dementia

  1. Alzheimer’s disease http://www.alzscot.org/assets/0002/1834/Alzheimer_s_Disease_Proof_1.pdf
  2. Behaviour Variant Frontotemporal dementia http://www.alzscot.org/assets/0002/0722/FTD.pdf
  3. CADASIL http://www.alzscot.org/assets/0002/0721/Cadasil.pdf
  4. Dementia with Lewy bodies http://www.alzscot.org/assets/0000/0153/lewybody.pdf
  5. HIV associated dementia and AIDS dementia complex http://www.alzscot.org/assets/0002/1159/HIV_Associated_Dementia.pdf
  6. Korsakoff’s Syndrome http://www.alzscot.org/assets/0002/0723/Korsakoffs_Syndrome.pdf
  7. Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and cognitive problems http://www.alzscot.org/assets/0002/0724/Multiple_Sclerosis.pdf
  8. Posterior Cortical Atrophy http://www.alzscot.org/assets/0002/0726/Posterior_Cortical_Atrophy.pdf
  9. Progressive Non Fluent Aphasia (PNFA) http://www.alzscot.org/assets/0002/1680/Progressive_Non_Fluent_Aphasia_-_updated.pdf
  10. Semantic dementia http://www.alzscot.org/assets/0002/0728/Semantic_Dementia.pdf
  11. Vascular dementia http://www.alzscot.org/assets/0000/0156/vasculardementia.pdf
  12. What is dementia? http://www.alzscot.org/assets/0001/7445/What_is_dementia_05.15.pdf

 

A New AHP Generation: 100+ Students, Interns and Volunteers in Alzheimer Scotland

It is almost 2 years since I arrived at Alzheimer Scotland in my new role of AHP Practice Education Facilitator, a job that is centred on ensuring that AHP students reach Dementia Informed and Dementia Skilled levels of Promoting Excellence (Scottish Government 2011) through practice education opportunities in Alzheimer Scotland.

In my previous position as an art therapist, I enjoyed working in a creative environment where dreams and ideas take form and new meaning is created through working with art materials; shaping, connecting, constructing, layering (sometimes reshaping, disconnecting, deconstructing and peeling back).

I was hopeful that my new role would also allow for a creative approach and I have not been disappointed. Like in the art room, the process of building and creating an AHP practice education programme has been challenging, surprising, engaging and ultimately rewarding.

I am delighted to have been able to recently share and celebrate the work we have done to support AHP practice education in Alzheimer Scotland in the link below.

http://www.alzscot.org/assets/0002/3231/AHP_Infographic_Updated_PAGES.pdf

And in a nice glossy leaflet.

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“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” Vincent Van Gogh

During the first three years of our programme, 100+ AHP students, interns and volunteers will have participated, spending time in Alzheimer Scotland services.

Across Scotland, have all been busy playing our part in ensuring placements provide a quality learning experience for students in a way that fits with university requirements and works for people living with dementia in Alzheimer Scotland services.

Partnerships with 6 Higher Education Institutions, 8 NHS Boards, NHS Education for Scotland, Scottish Dementia Working Group, Santander Universities, the respective professional bodies and PAMIS have been established and the cross-sector relationships that have developed feel key to success.

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Part of my role is to pull things together to ensure that there is a coordinated and sustainable approach to maintaining Quality Standards for Practice Placements- QSPP (NES 2008) in Alzheimer Scotland. From this central hub position, it is possible to measure the impact of the programme and act to make improvements across services and we have been able to use available technology to share projects and resources. Students can access each other’s work and rather than reinventing wheels, time can be spent usefully building on what has been done already.

We have seen some fantastic projects some of which have been shared previously on this blog and we hope that as the programme progresses, these can be developed, adapted and expanded. In the New Year, we will take the opportunity focus in a little on these projects, looking more closely perhaps at the experience for all involved and of course, we will share what details we discover through social media and more formally in conference presentations and articles.

Gathering together what we have done so far to gain an overview of the progress has been wonderful but in doing so I can’t help feeling this is just the beginning. And for me, beginnings are really quite exciting….

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ADR-ConvertImageAdrienne McDermid-Thomas

Alzheimer Scotland AHP Practice Education Facilitator

@adrienneahpmh

My role is to build on a programme of work of developing AHP student practice placements, an AHP internship programme and AHP volunteer opportunities in Alzheimer Scotland supporting the aspiration that all allied health professional students are skilled in dementia care on graduation.  I have had some really positive experiences of joint AHP working in the past and am very much looking forward to this further opportunity to work together with AHP colleagues and Alzheimer Scotland to develop ways of working which are sustainable and best suited to meeting the needs of people living with dementia and their carers and families.

Allied Health Professionals – Maximising Psychological Wellbeing

Music therapy & dementia: helping keep connections alive

 As human beings, music plays a fundamental role in our identity, culture, heritage and spiritual beliefs. It is a powerful medium which can affect us all deeply. Playing a musical instrument, being part of a choir or in a band, listening to music – these are all ways in which we can engage in music. They help us to connect with ourselves and others. Music can be exciting or calming, joyful or poignant. It can stir memories and powerfully resonate with our feelings, helping us to express them and communicate with others.

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Kind permission given for use of photograph by Key Changes Music Therapy

Everyone has the ability to respond to music, and music therapy uses this connection to facilitate positive changes in emotional wellbeing and communication through the engagement in live musical interaction between client and therapist.

Oliver Sachs, in his book ‘Musicophilia’, described music therapy as ‘seeking to address the emotions, cognitive powers, thoughts, and memories, the surviving “self” of the patient, to stimulate these and bring them to the fore. It aims to enrich and enlarge existence, to give freedom, stability, organisation and focus.

For people living with dementia, music therapy engages healthy parts of the brain to address the secondary effects of the condition, such as loss of confidence and self-worth, low mood and feelings of frustration, irritability and anxiety.

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Donald was quiet and almost apologetic of his presence socially. It took him time to find the words that he was looking for and this meant that often, he would not talk rather than putting himself through the trauma of stumbling over words. In his music therapy sessions Donald improvised on the xylophone while the therapist followed the shape and emotional content of his music on the piano. She was able to support and encourage his sense of self and promote his confidence. He commented that he felt “exhilarated” and slowly explained that he found improvising music easier than talking.

Central to how music therapy works is the therapeutic relationship that is established and developed, through engagement in live musical interaction and play between a therapist and client. A wide range of musical styles and instruments can be used, including the voice, and the music is often improvised. Using music in this way enables clients to create their own unique musical language in which to explore and connect with the world and express themselves. For someone living with dementia and for those who care for them, these moments of connection through music can be transformative.

Music therapy is a particularly effective clinical intervention for people who have difficulty communicating verbally as musical participation and response does not depend on the ability to speak. For most people living with dementia in the later stages, are able to access memories from long ago, but not recent events. The brain remembers emotional experiences more easily than facts and the emotional nature of music helps these memories come to the fore and helps maintain connections with loved ones and carers.

For Donald, isolated by his changing verbal abilities, the realisation that he could communicate his emotions through music to someone who could contain and hold them and that he could create something worthwhile that was his, was a life affirming process. For thirty minutes a week, he was able to communicate with another person without it provoking worry and stress. The sessions moved at his pace, with no musical goals, only the therapeutic aims of enabling him to communicate and express himself in order to help to reduce his anxiety and resultant agitation.

Kind permission given for use of photograph by Key Changes Music Therapy

Kind permission given for use of photograph by Key Changes Music Therapy

Music therapists work with people living with dementia to help maintain their quality of life and care, and look for appropriate ways to use music to help meet their psychological needs. They work with individuals, with families, and in groups. They can offer sessions in a person’s own home, in residential care settings or day centres.

Music therapy is an established psychological clinical intervention, which is delivered by HCPC registered music therapists to help people whose lives have been affected by injury, illness or disability through supporting their psychological, emotional, cognitive, physical, communicative and social needs, connect with the world and express themselves.

On reflection

Thank you for reading our blog post. we would love to hear from you and have offered four questions for you to share your ideas with us;

How have you seen music make a difference for people with dementia? What impact have you seen music therapy have for people with dementia?

Do you feel music therapy should be available to all those with dementia?

How do you feel music impacts on the quality of care for those with dementia?

To find a music therapist or to find out more about music therapy, please contact the British Association for Music Therapy (BAMT), the professional body representing music therapy and music therapists in the UK.

T: 020 7837 6100

www.bamt.org

2nd Floor

24 – 27 White Lion Street

London

N1 9PD

pic-5-convertimageGrace Watts – Development Director for the British Association for Music Therapy and practising music therapist in the NHS.

@musictherapyuk

I have recently moved into this post for BAMT and it marks an exciting time in our charity’s development. More people than ever are aware of the positive impact music can have on our lives, and a lot of my role involves working with our membership, stakeholders, and the general public to continue to increase awareness and understanding of music therapy, and develop ways to increase access to music therapy for those who could benefit from it. As part of my role, I have been able to work with colleagues on developing a dementia strategy in partnership with stakeholders, primarily focusing on integrating the use of music therapy in dementia care.

pic-4-convertimagePolly Bowler, music therapist in dementia care and trustee of the British Association for Music Therapy

Polly completed her Masters in Music Therapy at Guildhall School of Music & Drama in 2011. She has been working full-time with people with Dementia for Methodist Homes (MHA) since January 2012. A keen member of the BAMT dementia network and a member of the recently formed BAMT national working group for dementia and music therapy, she is passionate about raising awareness of the efficacy of music and music therapy for people with dementia. She has also worked with adults with learning disabilities in the community setting. 

 

With occupational therapy you CAN…

#OTweek16 #AHPDementia

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If I had a penny for each time during my career someone asked me “what is occupational therapy?” I wouldn’t need to be playing the lottery this weekend! This week is national occupational therapy week, November 7 – 13th2016, #OTweek16 for those Tweeters out there. So my blog this week is I’m offering you the opportunity to have an insight into this lesser understood, enigmatic profession. So pour yourself a contemplative cuppa and have a read.

Occupational therapy is a science degree-based health and social care profession, regulated by the Health Care Professions Council. It is one of the ten allied health professions. You can train to either degree or masters level, at any of three universities across Scotland.

Occupational therapy takes a whole-person approach to both mental and physical health and wellbeing, enabling individuals to achieve their full potential.  We work with children and adults across a variety of settings including health organizations, social care services, housing, education, re-employment schemes, occupational health, prisons, and voluntary organizations or as independent practitioners.

So what does that mean, what do occupational therapists actually do?

Well, as occupational therapists we think about “occupation” as any activity any of us does day to day, which is important, necessary or which we enjoy. The range of “occupation” is endless. If I use myself as an example some of my daily “occupations” would be putting on my clothes in the morning, reading my emails at work, making a meal for my family, riding my bicycle.

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The occupational therapists job is to consider how, if I was the service user, the changes in my mental or physical health are making it difficult for me to be able to do these “occupations”- the things I want or need to do day to day. They need to understand what’s important to me in my life? What would allow me to stay in control and live my life my way?

Occupational therapists are adaptors; maybe that chameleon like ability is why people are often unsure what it is we do?

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So for example in order to help me to keep riding my bike after an episode of depression the occupational therapist will problem solve and adapt either:

  • the activity itself: maybe I should try going out for 10minutes, twice a week, with a close friend who also bikes, somewhere that’s easy to access and doesn’t take long to get there, with a nice coffee shop on the way back
  • the surrounding environment and tools I use: maybe a tarmac cycle route would be easier, at a quiet time of day, and my bike could do with a service first so it’s working properly (they help me think through planning and organizing that)
  • me: set SMART goals which I can achieve, to keep me motivated, help me think about what I value about biking and help me understand and make the link between doing an activity I enjoy and feeling better about and improving my mental health

So back to that question again “what do occupational therapists do?”

I guess the bottom line is it ends up looking different each time, as we are all different as people and what’s an important “occupation” to me may not be important to you.

And we work in so many different settings, with different age groups of people, that that also makes what we “do” look different. Ultimately it isn’t what the occupational therapist “does” that matters, rather what the person ends up being able to do that’s important.

So for occupational therapy week this year I’ll leave you with this thought,

“With occupational therapy you CAN….”

This blog has kindly been reproduced from dghealth posted on 4th November : https://dghealth.wordpress.com/2016/11/04/with-occupational-therapy-you-can-by-wendy-chambers/

wendyWendy Chambers: Team lead occupational therapist, NHS Dumfries and Galloway

@wendyAHPDem

As a team lead occupational therapist in organic services in Dumfries and Galloway (dementia and learning disabilities), I am keen to ensure the services we provide are what people need, of a high quality and making a definate impact to help people and their families live well with dementia in Scotland.

 

Allied health professionals – Enhancing Daily Living

A Day in the Life of a Student Occupational Therapist at Alzheimer Scotland

“My 4 favourite learning opportunities”

I am in my final year of an Occupational Therapy degree at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh and I have just completed an 8 week placement with Alzheimer Scotland. Throughout my short time at Alzheimer Scotland I have had many learning opportunities and access to many resources.

My placement would be described as a “role emerging” placement which means that there is not an established occupational therapy service at the placement and it is part of my role to identify how the skills of occupational therapy and the link between occupation and wellbeing can fit into third sector services.

I have found that this kind of placement has allowed me to explore my own therapeutic style and have the opportunity to put my own stamp on occupational therapy and Alzheimer Scotland services. This blog is titled “A day in the Life of a student occupational therapist at Alzheimer Scotland” however every day of my placement has been totally unique and no two days have been the same, so instead I will share with you my 4 favourite learning opportunities.

  1. Local & individual

I had the privilege of working with two people living with dementia in their own homes. I worked with two people of a similar age with a diagnosis of dementia but my input for each was completely different! With each of them I took a strength based approach to my therapy.

One person was living with vascular dementia had issues with communication, stimulation and engagement. She required support to link in with her community and was finding ways to engaging with her family and professionals. I liaised with my AHP colleagues within the NHS and social work to ensure that the entire person’s needs were met. Sessions with this person were activity based and we could play dominoes or bingo as I found that a more interactive approach and suited her best as the focus was on engaging in activities that had person meaning to them. It didn’t focus on her lack of communication.

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The second person I worked with was completely different; they had a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and was living very well independently. The main issue for this person was confidence and a lack of self-efficacy. We used reminiscence therapy as the basis for our sessions together, looking through cherished family photos and arranging them in a life story book to focus on positive memories and the strength of her long term memory.

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  1. Projects that can make a difference day to day living

My last blog I posted on 6th October (here) was based on a Kitchen Safety project I completed inspired by a client I met at an Alzheimer Scotland group. During the placement I also contributed to an intergeneration garden idea, providing an occupation focus and incorporating evidence to different generations working together to benefit nature and created multi-sensory natural environments. This was a unique opportunity that allowed me to explore the therapeutic benefits of nature, ways to stimulate senses and to consider the practicalities of horticultural occupations and what equipment and adaptations can make participation possible!

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  1. Advocating with Occupational Therapy you CAN

In my experience the profession of Occupational Therapy isn’t well understood. Often we are described as “like a physio” or mistaken for careers advisors. This placement has given me the opportunity to advocate the role and inform people living with dementia and their families about what occupational therapy CAN do for them and how to access all AHP’s. I was able to attend home visits and memory café’s to share information using AHP handouts and “Occupational Therapy CAN” cards as visual aids to ensure people are getting the most from their Allied Health Professionals. I believe this should be the responsibility of all occupational therapists as we deliver an important service that is often limited by lack of understanding.

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  1. Working with the wider Community

What’s special about Alzheimer Scotland is how they work with the wider the community. The aim is reduce stigma and to create dementia friendly communities! I had the opportunity to be part of the dementia friend’s sessions where we reached out to workplaces, health professionals and religious communities to create a better understanding of dementia and what we can do as a society to make the lives on those living with dementia and their families easier.

I also had the opportunity to be involved in the Lanarkshire memory walk where I witnessed a tremendous turnout of people whose lives have been affected by dementia and how everyone came together to raise funds and awareness!

Throughout my placement I have been honoured to meet a lot of special people who have taught me skills both for my occupational therapy career and for my role within my community. #thankyou

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On reflection

I hope this blog has provided some insight into how occupational therapy can be a part of Alzheimer Scotland services and how we can be can integrate our skills as occupational therapists to deliver therapeutic interventions and link people living with dementia to their communities.

I would love to hear from you about your own occupational therapy experiences and post me any questions regarding my 8 weeks at Alzheimer Scotland and the role of an occupational therapist.

pic-7-convertimageNicole Kane

Student Occupational Therapist

@NicoleKane_OT

My name is Nicole Kane and I am a fourth year Occupational therapy student at Queen Margaret University. I am currently with Alzheimer Scotland for 8 weeks completing my final placement. I am based at the Lanarkshire Resource Centre in Motherwell and have been involved in dementia services in both North and South Lanarkshire. My role within this placement is providing an occupation focused perspective to Alzheimer Scotland services.

Let’s talk about Dementia & Self-Directed Support

Ok, I know what you are thinking? “Self-Directed Support?…what’s this new bit of jargon I have to get my head around now?” And I get it; the words can be off putting.

But bear with me. If all you take from this blog is one thing, then I would like it to be this:

There is an alternative to the support that social work offers to people living with dementia and their carers. There are a range of standard supports that you might have heard about, like homecare and day services that might be offered by social work. If they don’t sound like they are for you, then you don’t need to just accept them. Options are available and that’s what Self-Directed Support is all about.

My name is Laura and I’m the Self-Directed Support Manager at Alzheimer Scotland. My job is about helping to make it easier for people living with dementia to access Self-Directed Support. There are still too many barriers to people accessing Self-Directed Support and one of the biggest is a lack of awareness and understanding of what Self-Directed Support is and the potential it offers to people living with dementia.

So I want to use this blog to ask you about how much you know about Self-Directed Support. I hope to get you thinking about it and hopefully, encourage you to go and find out more.

If you are someone living with dementia, a carer or family member; do you know about Self-Directed Support? Has anyone explained it and how it could impact on your support and life? Do you know that local authorities have a legal duty to tell everyone they offer support to about the 4 options of Self-Directed Support?

By the way the four options are:pic-1

  • I get the money to spend on support I choose (a direct payment)
  • I tell the council how to spend the money
  • I let the council decide how to spend the money
  • A mix of options 1, 2 and 3.

That means that if you get support through social work, you should have already heard about Self-Directed Support and given a chance to think if you wanted to have more choice and control over your own support.

If you don’t receive any support from social work, Self-Directed Support is something you can expect to hear about and ask about in future.

If you are an Allied Health Professional, I would ask you to consider what you know about Self-Directed Support. Do you think about Self-Directed Support in relation to people living with dementia? Do you see Self-Directed Support as an important part of self-management for people living with dementia and carers? Do you flag Self-Directed Support up to people living with dementia who you meet through your work?

People living with dementia have used Self-Directed Support in lots of different ways to arrange flexible support that suits them and their life. Some people have used Self-Directed Support to recruit and employ Personal Assistants, to have a short break away with family instead of going to a respite centre and to choose which support provider delivers their personal care. It is important that more people living with dementia and carers get the benefit from having more choice and control over their own support.

I’d be really keen to hear answers to all the questions I’ve posed and to support anyone trying to get their head around Self-Directed Support and the potential it can offer someone living with dementia.

You can’t explain Self-Directed Support properly in a blog, or in a leaflet or on a website so I won’t even try. I would urge you to have a good pic-2conversation with someone about it.

There’s lots of help out there if you want to find out more. Social workers should be able to help you or if you are already receiving a service you could contact the local service manager to help you find out more. Dementia Advisors and Dementia Link Workers can also help to explain Self-Directed Support.

There are also lots of local independent support organisations who are there to help people learn about Self-Directed Support and to work with people to organise their own support. You can search for the right contact for your area here http://www.sdsinfo.org.uk/search/

Self-Directed Support best comes to life and makes most sense when we talk to people and their families about what would make a difference to their lives and we start connecting how more choice, control and flexibility could help make those things happen.

I look forward to hearing your answers to the questions above and I hope we keep on talking about dementia and Self-Directed Support!

Laura Finnan Cowan is Alzheimer Scotland’s Self-Directed Support Manager. Please feel free to get in touch with Laura if you would like to know more. lfinnancowan@alzscot.org

pic-5-convertimageLaura Finnan Cowan: Self-Directed Support Manager

@Lafinnco

As Alzheimer Scotland’s Self-Directed Support Manager, Laura’s job is to help make it easier for people living with dementia to access Self-Directed Support. Laura can support individual enquiries, give talks and info sessions about Self-Directed Support to groups and provide advice and training to professionals.