#DementiaAwareness Week

“In conversation with an allied health professional”

#DementiaAwareness

Dementia Awareness Week 2022 (Monday 30 May to Friday 5 June) is an opportunity to support the 90,000 people living with dementia in Scotland and their families and carers. The theme for this year’s Dementia Awareness Week is ‘Prevent, Care, Cure’.  

There is also a Tea & Blether Campaign where you can host a coffee morning this Dementia Awareness Week (or any time in June) to support people living with dementia in Scotland.  And it’s simple: Just pick a date, a location and gather up some friendly faces to have a chat over a cuppa – and a slice or two of cake if you fancy! Head to blether.alzscot.org to register for free. 

Over the week there will be a series of events, including podcasts, blogs and webinars to get communities talking about dementia. Find out more here

Allied health professionals in Scotland are supporting the week in a number of different ways including

We also decided that during the week we will also be hosting a series of “in conversation with” blogs where you can read or listen to our AHPs sharing “frequently asked questions” that we will share here on our blog and daily at @AHPDementia and @ScotJTDementia, with the support of @alzscot. Our week looks like this:

  • Monday 30th May we are in conversation with Gillian our dietitian
  • Tuesday 31st May our occupational therapists, Abi, Lynn and Claire will be talking about their roles and we are also going to share our first ever TicTok post by Julie.
  • Wednesday 1st June, Alison will be in a pre-recorded podcast with our podiatrists Vicki and Karen
  • Thursday 2nd June, Jenny has written a blog for us on frequently asked questions in her role as a speech and language therapists
  • Friday 3rd June, will be led by Claire talking about physiotherapy
  • Saturday 4th June we will focus on music therapy led by Laura
  • Sunday 5th June I will do a round up of the week from our allied health professions community in Scotland.

During the week, you can also ask a question to our AHPs. Are you worried about falls, good footcare, eating well and keeping active? Perhaps you have questions about communication, looking for tips on how to boost your memory or develop a musical profile? We have Allied Health Professionals waiting to answer your questions, so just email us at AHPDementia@alzscot.org and we will answer your questions as best we can.

If you have the chance to get involved in Dementia Awareness Week in any way, online or in person, please support the week by following the conversation on social media #DementiaAwareness and reach out to your fellow citizens living with dementia and their carers.

Thank you and have a great week everyone and look forward to seeing all your #MugShots. Elaine

Footcare at home

Guidance for people with dementia and those who support them.

Allied Health Professionals over the past 18 months have worked collectively to create a suite of online resources for people with dementia and those who support them. The information has a focus on 

  • Activities at home
  • Physical activity at home
  • Footcare at home
  • Eating Well at home
  • Tips for Talking

You can final all the resources here

The information sheets are relevant for people living at home, being supported at home or in a care home setting. The website page is updated on a regular basis so please check back to see the most up-to-date information developed for you by our allied health professions in Scotland.

This week’s blog has a focus on Footcare at home. Guidance for people with dementia and those who support them. In collaboration with allied health professionals, we are preparing a range of information to help you and this guide is one example. This sheet has been written in partnership with podiatrists, who can help you by diagnosing, treating, rehabilitating and preventing foot, ankle and lower limb problems. This can assist you with sustaining an active and healthy lifestyle by helping you to maintain your mobility.

Personal footcare is important for everyone. Good foot health can reduce discomfort and pain, prevent health complications, maintain mobility and improve both independence and quality of life. Having healthy feet can help you to remain physically active and allow you to participate in the activities you enjoy. However, neglecting personal footcare can contribute to poor health and reduced wellbeing, which can be avoided. There are many things you can do for yourself or a family member can do to help look after your feet. If the time comes when you develop problems with your feet you may need to seek the help of a Podiatrist. Please note NHS Podiatry service do not offer a nail cutting service.

Helpful tips for looking after our feet at home:

Wear appropriate footwear

Keeping mobile and active is important to help us maintain our physical and mental wellbeing. Good footwear is essential to help protect our feet and support participation in activities. When looking for suitable footwear try a velcro fastening as these can help secure the foot, can be loosened to allow for any swelling during the day and are easier to fasten. A seam free top and a wide toe box allow room for toes and reduces the risk of damage to the skin. If buying shoes for someone check they fit properly as your foot shape can change over the years. At home avoid walking barefoot or in slippers as these can increase your risk of falls or damage to your skin. Instead try trainers or your normal shoes to protect and support your feet. Change your socks and tights daily. For people who are non-mobile warm socks may be more appropriate than footwear.

Check your feet every day

You should check your feet every day for any discolouration, blisters, breaks in the skin, pain or any signs of infection (i.e. redness, heat, swelling, pain, loss of function). A hand mirror can help with this. If you have any concerns seek help from your NHS Podiatry service or local HCPC registered private podiatrist for advice.

Wash your feet daily

Try to shower and wash your feet every day in warm water and with mild soap. Rinse them thoroughly and then dry them carefully, especially in between the toes before putting on your socks and shoes. If you are unable to get into the shower or bath regularly, it may be easier to wash your feet using a basin. Don’t soak your feet as this can reduce the natural oils of the foot, causing dry skin.

Put cream on your feet daily

Use moisturising cream on your feet daily, especially if your skin is dry. Don’t put any between your toes as it can lead to infections. Reduce hard skin by gently rubbing with a pumice stone or foot file. Just after you have washed your feet is best. You may have areas of yellowish thick skin on your toes or feet. These are calluses and corns which can be painful. DO NOT use any sharp implement to cut these as it it’s very dangerous. Do not use any creams or plasters which contain acids to remove them. If you are in pain, contact a podiatrist for advice

Try to keep your toenails comfortable

You can file (1 to 2 times per week) or cut your toenails to help keep them comfortable. If you choose to cut your toenails then it is best to use proper nail nippers. Do not cut them too short. It is safest to cut straight across, cutting down the sides can cause a wound or an ingrown toenail. Once cut, file with an emery board to ensure there are no sharp edges. If you have problems with the sensation in your feet, or your vision, ask a family member or carer for help. If you have been advised not to cut your own nails, or have any difficulty, please contact your NHS Podiatry service or local HCPC registered private podiatrist for advice.

If you’re unsure about something, it’s always better to call your podiatrist or GP than to take things into your own hands or ignore any issue.

Helpful links

Personal Footcare: Looking After Your Feet:

Personal Footcare: Looking After Someone Else’s Feet

Activities at home. Getting started and environment

Guidance for people with dementia and those who support them

Activities at Home. Information Sheet

Allied Health Professionals over the past 18 months have worked collectively to create a suite of online resources for people with dementia and those who support them. The information has a focus on 

  • Activities at home
  • Physical activity at home
  • Footcare at home
  • Eating Well at home
  • Tips for Talking

You can final all the resources here and at www.alzscot.org/ahpresources

The information sheets are relevant for people living at home, being supported at home or in a care home setting. The website page is updated on a regular basis so please check back to see the most up-to-date information developed for you by our allied health professions in Scotland.

This week’s blog has a focus on Activities at home Getting started and environment

Guidance for people with dementia and those who support them. This information sheet has been written in partnership with occupational therapists and provides practical advice to help you to engage in your hobbies and interests.

While there are many benefits to taking part in activities, it is recognised that it isn’t always easy for people to make the first move and get started. There could be many reasons why someone does not want to take part in an activity. This could include low motivation as a result of poor mood, pain, fear of failure or not understanding what is being asked.

It is important to make sure that any activities you are trying are person-centred, are matched to the person’s interests and abilities and are enjoyable. When thinking about carrying out an activity, make sure that your environment can make this is easy as possible.

Here are some ideas which might help you to engage someone in activities:

Start small

Meaningful activities don’t have to be big or complicated. They can be something small and carried out as part of an existing routine to make it more enjoyable for the person. For example, singing together while attending to personal care is a straightforward, easy way to enjoy an otherwise mundane activity.

Match to ability

Consider the person’s current abilities when thinking about a meaningful activity to take part in. Things like how long can they concentrate for, are there any sensory challenges (make sure to wear glasses or a hearing aid if needed) or are there any physical issues (how long can the person stand for) will make an impact on the person’s ability to participate. You might help by demonstrating the activity in short stages or steps. You can back this up with written or pictorial instructions. Using technology such as YouTube tutorials or online sessions and groups can also help with this.

Gain interest

It may be that if you ask someone if they would like to carry out a specific activity, they will say no. If that happens, you could try starting the activity yourself. For example, doing a jigsaw or a puzzle where you talk about what you are doing. The person may enjoy watching what you are doing (a meaningful activity in itself) or even better may naturally join in.

Positive feedback

We all respond well when we are encouraged, so it is important to ensure that positive feedback is provided. This can be incorporated during the activity, rather than feedback based on the standard of any end product. It can help if a person feels that they are doing something for someone else, such as making a card or painting for a family member. You could both share photos of the person taking part in activities with family members and friends.

Setting up an activity

Some activities will require preparation and it will be useful to have all the materials ready at the beginning. For example, to develop a “life story” where you share stories of past experiences, interests, who and what is important, it can be helpful to gather together items such as photographs, postcards and tickets etc.

Also think about a specific activity area. For example, moving away from the usual armchair to a good sized table or another setting if possible. Perhaps you could use a specific room to try to replicate the previous act of going somewhere for an activity.

If possible try leaving activities out so that the can be seen. For example you could:

• Leave the dishes on the drainer with a dish towel nearby

• Have a jigsaw in progress where the person will walk past

• Set up some jobs within the garden such as a watering can for plants.

Base the activity on what you know will be enjoyed, start small and focus on the enjoyment of taking part in an activity rather than the end result and have fun.

Helpful links

Connecting People Connecting Support on line This is a website created by Occupational Therapists and designers where people can come together to explore ways to live well with dementia. There are 32 different topics with things to chat about, try, play and more

Royal College of Occupational Therapy Activity in Care Homes Toolkit offers best practice in supporting older people to enjoy daily activities

Digital Pool Activity Level guide supports people to be fully engaged in activities and describes how to support the person. You can download a free copy here

Learning from a National Learning Network

I am Sandra Shields, Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Nurse Consultant in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. I was delighted when it was my turn again to write the blog on behalf of the Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Consultant Group (ASDCG).  What better an opportunity could I get to raise awareness of the new Dementia National Learning and Sharing Network.  If you haven’t yet heard of it, then, it is an online gathering of like-minded people who want to continue to learn, with the one goal of achieving the necessary skills and knowledge to understand what excellent care is for people living with dementia, who may need support to live their best life. The learning started right at the beginning, thanks to my colleague Wendy Chambers, Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Consultant, NHS Dumfries and Galloway.  Wendy already runs a very successful AHP learning network and she was able to share a wealth of knowledge with the Alzheimer Scotland Dementia consultant group to help us get the network off to a great start.  You can view all the AHP learning sessions here and follow @AHPDementia to find out more

Creation of the network

Can you believe the pandemic created an opportunity with TEAMS?  Almost all Health and social care staff throughout Scotland now have access to Teams*. This created the opportunity for the ASDC to work together with the Dementia Champions, Dementia Specialist Improvement Leads, the Dementia Ambassadors and anyone interested in dementia across all health board areas across Scotland.  It allows everyone the option of joining live or catching up later.  The best of both worlds. When considering the potential of a digital platform my colleague and co network lead, Helen Skinner, ASDNC, NHS Fife said “during that time of change at the start of the pandemic, everyone was adapting really quickly to the online format for all sorts of things – whether that was work meetings, university courses, online book groups, zoom quizzes – everyone was becoming adept at interacting virtually so I was excited to see how connecting with such a potentially large group will work digitally.”  Helen and I were also very aware of how successful the digital delivery of the 2021 cohort of Dementia Champions programme had been.

Preparing for the first session was strange, until we realised if it is to be an inclusive network then the decisions on how the sessions are planned need to be made by the people who would be attending.  From there it was quite simply learn how to use Teams to include polls and ask, or so we thought.

In the first session we asked about format.  The opportunity for discussion was high on the list as a key influencer for people to attend and not expert presentations as Helen and I had thought. We now know that polls and word clouds will not be enough to meet this objective. So far we have tried to use the chat box in addition to polls and word clouds, we are working on how to get to hear other voices.  200 people registered for the session on Delirium and we hope that this will continue to increase over each session.  For now Helen and I have plans to develop our skills in Jamboard / white board and also using break out rooms as a medium for discussion that can have meaningful outcomes within an hour session.  Look out for this on the 25th May session will be a discussion on Dementia and Pain assessment that you can register for here

Watch out for pre session questions coming your way via jamboard. If you would like to catch up on the series so far you can find the recordings here

If you are joining the session with knowledge that could benefit the session please let Helen and or Sandra know at email address below.

Sandra.shields@ggc.scot.nhs.uk

helen.skinner@nhs.scot

* If you don’t have access to Teams and work in health and social care then please contact the ASDC for your board who may be able to help find a solution for you.

Lorna’s Story

Lorna has kindly agreed to share her story with us which was previously published on the Scottish Dementia Working Group’s Blog page which you can find here

About me

I was born in 1945 and grew up in Edinburgh.My father was a Marine Engineer in the Ben Line for many years, sailing as far as Kamchatka, in the then USSR. On leaving the Merchant Navy, he then became the Head Engineer of a Cold Store in Leith. Always a very hard worker and inventive, he designed among other things, a conveyor belt to move items to and from the Cold Store and lorries outside, items for the home and garden, and toys for my sister and myself. My mother, always busy in the house, was a fabulous cook, baker and a versatile dress maker, making anything from pretty party dresses to knitting swimming costumes for her two daughters.

My parent’s work ethic, skills, Christian faith and inventiveness had a strong influence on me and inspired my love of arts and crafts.

My parents gave my sister and I a wonderful childhood. Most Saturdays, weather permitting, Dad would take us for a drive, either to the beaches near Edinburgh if it was warm or inland for walks, exploring, or in Autumn to gather Brambles. Summer holidays were always spent away from home getting to know Scotland or the North of England, and one year to Holland, where my mother’s sister lived.

We were always encouraged to do our best. My sister went to work in a bank, and I went to Moray House Teacher Training College, as it was called then, to achieve a dream I had when I was about eight and we were on holiday at Sanna, Ardnamurchan – a dream to be the Headteacher in a small, rural school.

And so, for thirty years and a day I taught in a number of schools in Scotland, first as a class teacher in a large city school, in a two teacher school in the far North, then as Headteacher in several schools moving eventually to the North East of Scotland to be nearer my mother after father died. My mother then developed Alzheimer’s disease.  My sister, husband and family had moved to Shetland, so Mum soon came to live with me. This was in the eighties, and there was not much support. I did get a former nurse to come in some of the time to be with mum, not an ideal solution and so I had to look for a permanent, long term care placement. A place was found for her, and she was in that Nursing Home for just over a year before she passed away. During that time the care she got from the nurses and care assistants was wonderful and the support I got from them too was much appreciated.

Time moved on, I got married, moved to a school nearer the village where we lived and were there for nine, hectic but happy years. I then took early retirement, like many other Headteachers in that Region, as things were changing in Education.

My husband and I had discovered the delights of Cornwall, while holidaying there, fell in love with the area and moved there. Shortly afterwards, I saw an advert which changed my life – a year long course called ‘Access to Art and Design’ at a nearby college. I applied, was accepted, and so for three days a week I became a student again, learning so many new skills and experiencing so many interesting things which, twenty years down the line, are still shaping my life today.

After we were down there for about eight years, my husband became homesick for Scotland and we returned there. Having hobbies such as embroidery and felting one quickly makes new contacts who soon become friends, sharing ideas preparing for exhibitions and occasionally selling some of the exhibits. Below are some samples of my work done, before and during the lockdown.

Wildflowers by the roadside Flowers by a garden wall Colours of the rainbow

About two years ago I was beginning to have sight problems, I noticed this when trying to read to a friend in a Care Home, when looking at road signs and on other occasions. I consulted my doctor, then eventually a consultant. I had a brain scan which confirmed that I had early stage Alzheimer’s disease.  I was told “don’t worry, you’ll be given Post Diagnostic Support,” and was given the booklet ‘Living with Dementia’.

I read the book, or tried to, but there was so much information to take in, and then I waited. I eventually phoned one of the numbers and was told they would get back with more information, and once again I waited. Two weeks later, a phone call, an apology, a talk and promise of support. Contact had been made, and over the past year, has developed.

Moving on

Just before my year’s post diagnostic support was coming to an end, I was given the booklet ‘Post Diagnostic Resource’ which was co-produced by the Scottish Dementia Working Group. I wish that I had had access to this booklet sooner, as it is full of practical advice.

Becoming involved with the Scottish Dementia Working Group (SDWG) has been so good for me. I feel like I have the chance now not only to be involved in things, but to help make thing better for others living with dementia. I also meet other people with dementia fortnightly for a walk, its good to see how they are coping and can share our experiences with each other.

My embroidery and felting hobbies are so important to me as well – they give me so much pleasure.

If I was to say just one thing to other people who have just received a dementia diagnosis, it would be “Don’t give up hope and carry on!”