This week’s blogs post is a question and answer session by Fiona as she shares her very deep and personal commitment to try to make a positive difference to the lives of those with dementia, their families, and carers.
Question 1: How did your partnership with Alzheimer Scotland start?
I started using twitter in 2012 and in autumn that year Elaine Hunter (@elaineahpmh) and I started a twitter conversation. Our conversation grew and we began to share thoughts on possible ideas for future partnerships. These ideas evolved and we organised a study day in partnership with Alzheimer Scotland (@alzscot) for all the occupational therapy students at QMU. We had fantastic support from colleagues, the Scottish Dementia Working Group (@S_D_W_G) and Fiona MacNeil Associates (@FionaMacNeill) helped us create a really unique learning opportunity for our students. The Alzheimer Scotland memory bus also came to campus on the same day and was a great source of valuable information for all our wider QMU community. We filmed the day and you can still see it here.
Question 2 : What has been the greatest success of the partnership to date?
For me it has to be the occupational therapy internship programme we developed. We tried after the study day to keep building and creating learning opportunities. As a result of this hard work we were successful in gaining internships through the Santander Universities UK internship programme. In partnership with QMU, Alzheimer Scotland and Santander Universities UK we have now employed two interns during the summers of 2013 and 2014. In 2015 we will have two occupational therapy interns working with SDWG, in partnership with Alzheimer Scotland and QMU. Our occupational therapy interns have been really impressive and their work with us tends to leave a legacy.
When working with our interns we also recognised there was both a need and an opportunity to think about and reflect on how we support and reach allied health professionals, already in practice, who want to know and understand more about dementia. It has now been almost three years in development but we are really excited that our new MSc module, “Developing Rights-Based Practice for Allied Health Professionals Working With People With Dementia their Families and Carers”, was approved by QMU and is ready to be taught in September 2015.
Question 3: Why is an MSc module in dementia so important?
Ah….lots of reasons! We think the MSc module is very important, as it is the first module at master level exploring rights-based practice and dementia, which has been co-produced and will be co-delivered in partnership with Alzheimer Scotland with a specific focus on allied health professionals. We also hope the MSc module will help to support developing career pathways for AHPs working with people with dementia, their families and carers. We have also advertised our first Alzheimer Scotland AHP PhD studentship specifically related to occupational therapy and dementia through our partnership work! Therefore we hope our mater level module may also inspire our AHP’s to consider and undertake an academic career pathway, helping to create and enhance our evidence base for our allied health professions.
Question 4: What makes your MSc module different?
Hopefully lots! This is a new M-level module exploring rights-based practice and dementia that has been co-produced and will be co-delivered in partnership with Alzheimer Scotland. The diversity of our speakers is really exciting. We will have speakers from the NHS, academics with a research interest in dementia, and we are hoping to persuade Henry Simmons, Chief Executive of Alzheimer Scotland to talk with our students also! Members of the Scottish Working Dementia Group will be invited to shape and inform the detailed content whilst also be involved as part of the assessment process for the module.
Question 5: Why is this partnership working important to you?
I have been a qualified occupational therapist for nearly 25 years now. Yikes! I have enjoyed the diversity of being an AHP and the many opportunities and challenges this has brought. Over the last three years however, the opportunity to work in partnership with Alzheimer Scotland has allowed me to refresh a very deep and personal commitment I share with many others to try to make a positive difference to the lives of those with dementia, their families, and carers. I really do hope and believe that our partnership contribution through education is making a difference to people’s lives, and can help to support increased awareness and understanding of people living with dementia, their families, and carers.
If there is one thing you would like to learn more about related to dementia as an AHP, what would it be?
For further information
If you would like to know more about the M-level module, “Developing Rights-Based Practice for Allied Health Professionals Working With People With Dementia Their Families and Carers”, please contact Fiona Maclean, Senior Lecturer at Queen Margaret University: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am responsible for the programme management of the MSc (Post Reg) in Occupational Therapy and I am currently undertaking a PhD exploring occupational therapist’s professional knowledge of alcohol misuse in physical health care settings.