The Occupational Therapy Interns and AHP Volunteer have been leading on a “photo narrative project” over the summer with members of the Scottish Dementia Working Group (SDWG). The aim of the project was to capture the everyday occupations of people living with dementia with photographs.
When I talk about “occupations”, I am talking about the everyday activities that we all do as individuals, in families and within our communities, to bring meaning and purpose to our lives. Occupations include things we need to, want to and are expected to do (WFOT 2017).
Our project allows us to spend the day with different members of the group, where ever they lived, talking about what they enjoy, how they spent their time, understanding what is important to each of them and then capturing this through the use of images and taking photographs. We hope that the photos captured, will show the individuality of each participant and bring attention to the roles that they CAN carry out as part of society.
In order to present the voice of people from across Scotland we travelled to the SDWG members in the cities, rural communities and islands. We hope to use different technology in the way that we exhibit and share the narratives and photographs. We are lucky to have an events management graduate @McNEmilyJane to support us with this.
This project was also designed, more importantly to meet the SDWG’s 2017 priorities:
- Challenging stigma and changing the image of dementia
- Presenting a strong collective voice of diverse people with dementia across Scotland
- Using and exploring new technology to support the work
- Supporting a well-trained collective work force
Personal Photo Narrative Projects – getting started?
As part of our preparations as occupational therapy interns and AHP volunteers for the project, everyone involved completed their very own photo narrative project in order to try and experience what the participants may be feeling throughout the project. The photo narrative project involved us spending time taking photographs of what we believe is meaningful to our own lives. We then spent time writing a short excerpt of text for each photo on why it is important and what we gain from it. To help us in the process, we all picked a theme for our photos and took time in capturing what is meaningful to us. Below I have included small excerpts from each of our personal photo narratives.
Nicole Kane- Physical, Psychological and Social Wellbeing through Occupation
Despite graduation celebrations not being a regular occurrence in my life, for me my graduation was a symbol of my hard work and accomplishments over the past four years; the continuous learning experiences that have been part of my journey have added to wellbeing by constantly challenging my views and adding to my skillset. As I complete my undergraduate degree and move onto to new challenges it’s important to me to remember how new experiences and opportunities contribute to my wellbeing. More importantly however graduation was a time to celebrate the people who had been part of my educational journey. I take a collectivist approach to life and believe that no one ever does anything in isolation. My graduation involved the lecturers who have shared their knowledge and sparked my interests, my classmates who have helped me learn and challenged my thoughts, and finally my friends and family who listened to my complaints and constantly encouraged me. I believe that all aspects of my university career have contributed to my wellbeing and that the social supports that I have received throughout my role as a student are the key to my wellbeing.
Beth Crockett- Discovery through Occupation
Of course, my role as a student and intern is how I spend the majority of my time. One of the primary motivators I had in applying for this internship is that I felt I was lacking experience working with people with dementia. Past experience is a main source of knowledge that occupational therapists (and students) can draw upon and I felt as this was a step that I need to take in order to gain that experience. I was elated at the chance to learn from those with a wealth of knowledge in the SDWG and other experienced interns. Once again, my sense of discovery leads me to strive for professional development in my journey to becoming an occupational therapist.
Lynsey Robertson-Flannigan- Occupational Balance
As my mornings are busy whilst I get myself and my baby ready, I try to ensure I arrive at work early so that I have some time to myself to drink a cup of coffee and put some makeup on – another two activities that are meaningful to me.
Emily Duffy- Self Awareness Through Occupation
Another activity that provides ample opportunity to listen to my thoughts and reflect upon them, or equally drown them out when my thoughts feel too busy is by taking in the scenery or talking to a friend whilst walking and running. Living in Edinburgh, there is no shortage of places to go for this, but I like to challenge myself with Arthur’s Seat regularly. Not only do I feel this is important for my mental wellbeing, but equally important for my physical wellbeing.
This activity holds more meaning to me than just physical activity however. Having grown up in the countryside, and for a large portion of it in a caravan, being outdoors is very important to me. Not only does it give me a sense of freedom, but having been surrounded by the countryside until moving to Edinburgh, I have a great interest in nature and developed a strong passion for environmental sustainability during my Events Management degree, and would eventually go on to write about this topic in my final university project.
We hope that the photographs captured with the SDWG member can be shared to challenge the stigma and negative image of dementia by demonstrating that people living with dementia CAN still be valued and active members of the community! They CAN still fulfil roles that important to them be is as a friend, a husband or SDWG member.
This year the work will be shared formally for the first time at the Alzheimer Europe Conference in Berlin this October #27AEC. The chairman of the Scottish Dementia Working Group @ARCHIE41241748 will be presenting some of the work of the interns with the support of Alzheimer Scotland’s National Allied Health Professional Consultant @ElaineAHPmh and @MacleanFiona from Queen Margaret University who both lead on the internship partnership between Queen Margaret University, Alzheimer Scotland and Santander Universities UK.
This year’s interns plan on sharing this work further by displaying the projects at various conferences next year including the Alzheimer Scotland 2018 Conference in partnership with the Scottish Dementia Working Group.
Watch this space for future events and projects which will have the photo narrative projects at the centre. The individuals involved in this project all live well with a diagnosis of dementia!
What do you think about using photography as a media to capture what’s important to someone?
How can we challenge the stigma and negative image of dementia?
Keep upto date with what the OT Inters and AHP Volunteer are doing by following the hashtags #OTInterns17 and #AHPVolunteer17
WFOT., 2017. Definition of Occupational Therapy. [viewed 14th of August 2017] http://www.wfot.org/AboutUs/AboutOccupationalTherapy/DefinitionofOccupationalTherapy.aspx