Working Together

Enabling Healthcare Students to have a robust Education in Dementia

Alzheimer Scotland @alzscot has developed a strategic alliance with university health academics at Queen Margaret University @QMUniversity in a bid to improve student understanding of dementia. The move will ensure that healthcare students at Queen Margaret University have a robust education in dementia so that they are more effective as healthcare professionals when they move into the workplace. The ultimate aim is to improve the care and wellbeing of individuals with dementia and families affected by the condition across all service provision, within the NHS, private practice, social work and the voluntary sector.

We have been working together for several years, but the signing of an official agreement on the 1st April by Queen Margaret University Principal, Professor Petra Wend and Henry Simmons, Chief Executive of Alzheimer Scotland signaled the increased level of commitment that both organisations are placing on student education.

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 “QMU should be commended for taking this bold step to embed dementia education into its teaching practice. This strategic alliance offers an innovative way of educating future health professionals about dementia. By working together, with QMU students, we can make a truly meaningful contribution to patient care both in the NHS and the independent healthcare sector.” 

Henry Simmons, Chief Executive Alzheimer Scotland, Press release, Alzheimer Scotland

The Strategic Alliance has 3 aims:

  • Working between the two organisations to be a dementia aware higher education institution.
  • Development of a strategic approach in the creation of sustainable learning opportunities in the undergraduate programme.
  • Development of a strategic approach to continued professional development developing sustainable Allied Health Professionals career pathways in dementia care.


Dementia Aware Higher Education Institution

We have already begun the implementation. On the 1st April at the signing event we were joined by our Alzheimer Scotland Memory Bus. It was located in the University Square and is a unique mobile information vehicle which travels across the country to raise awareness and support for those interested in, or affected by, dementia.  It was accessible to all Queen Margaret University students and staff, and members of the public on that day.

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On the day the first year students had the opportunity to sign up to become a Dementia Friend as well as benefitting from free membership of Alzheimer Scotland.

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We were joined on the day by Henry (@henryrankin52) Peter and Carol from the Scottish Dementia Working Group (S_D_W_G) along with Fiona (@FionaSGordon) and Wendy (wrankin8). All of whom reminded us why we are developing this work with, speaking to the students saying “I want to keep my dignity, my privacy and I want to be respected. Don’t take that away from me when providing care”

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Sustainable learning opportunities in the undergraduate programme

For this part of the strategic alliance we are developing allied health professional student placements in Alzheimer Scotland. You can look at the blog post by Kirsty to find out what she did

Amanda Stears (amandaahp1) and Prof Brendan McCormack (Prof Brendan) have developed an on line dementia module. Amanda will be posting a blog called “What matters to you, matters to us, the future is in safe hands.” on the 16th April sharing this work.

Strategic approach to continued professional development

For this part of the strategic alliance we are developing occupational therapy internships with Queen Margaret University, Santander and Alzheimer Scotland. We started this in 2013 and it is continuing to develop. Catriona @CatrionaChapman was our second intern and you can view her blog post video from the 14th August 2014. We are building on this work with two new occupational therapy interns joining us this summer to work with the Scottish Development Working Group.

Another exciting development this year is the Alzheimer Scotland and Queen Margaret University MSc Dementia Module called “Developing Rights-Based Practice for Allied Health Professionals Working With People With Dementia Their Families and Carers”. You can contact Fiona for more information at Fiona (@MacleanFiona) will also be posting a blog on the 23rd April about this MSc module.

We have also developed an Alzheimer Scotland Allied Health Professional PhD studentship. For more information on this opportunity please contact Ian at @IanRMcMillan1

The strategic alliance is just the beginning

This week’s blog has shared a piece of work that started with a tweet in 2012 and has taken us to a fabulous place for the two organisations.

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The initial conversation on twitter has taken us to where we are today, two organisations signing a strategic alliance that looks to the future, our next generation of dementia champions and leaders of the future. We are not sure where the strategic alliance will take us however we do know it is the right thing to do and we know we have the right people supporting the work to make it happen.

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We would welcome any comments on this blog post?

Elaine HunterElaine Hunter
Allied Health Professional Consultant, Alzheimer Scotland

My remit in Alzheimer Scotland is to bring the skills of AHPs to the forefront of dementia practice and to share with them the principles and practice of working in a major charity that is dedicated to “making sure nobody faces dementia alone”. I am leading the delivery of commitment 4 of Scotland’s Dementia Strategy. In short, a great job working with great people.


6 thoughts on “Working Together

  1. Excellent and heartening… ! I work as a mental health trainer, with many years experience of caring for people with dementia, not least my mother who died from an early dementia at the age of 56, nearly 14 years ago. It’s my passion to help show the importance of striving for ‘real’ holistic care and input for all affected by the diagnosis, including carers. I have been a member of AlzScot since I was a mental health student nurse in the 80s. Great idea to offer free membership. My sister is training to be a nurse at Dundee University and has recently become a dementia friend. Congratulations to you all on such fantastic collaborative work… !

    • Thank you Kim for reading the blog & commenting. The strategic alliance offers an opportunity to work with a great range of students including nursing, allied health professionals, media students, catering students and many others. We are all looking forward to now implementing the alliance and will keep you all posted via the blog and twitter, thanks again, Elaine

  2. Many congratulations on this Educational Alliance.
    As A Carer and living with dementia, I welcome this initiative. The more professionals learn about dementia and think how that learning is applied in practice, the better the care we will receive.
    Look forward to hearing more!

    • Myra, thank you for reading the blog and also taking the time to comment. This partnership working offers us great opportunities to work with our future health care professionals who will be the leaders & champions of future health and social care.
      Great to have your contribution to our blog & we will keep you updated through the blog, on twitter and please also contact us by email,
      Thank you once again, Elaine

    • Thank you for your question.
      My own role is linking with all 4 higher education facilities that train our allied health professionals in Scotland which includes Robert Gordon University, Glasgow Caledonian University, Strathclyde University and also Queen Margaret University.
      I will be sharing with them the work we are developing and how the principles of the partnership working can be spread & adapted to the needs of each of the universities.
      We are also beginning to link with the universities at York St Johns and Sheffield Hallam in respect of occupational therapy student placements at Alzheimer Scotland, so it is exciting times with some great & innovative partners.
      Hope this answers your question. Email us if you would like to hear more specifics.
      Thanks again for commenting on the blog & offering us the question

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