Speech and Language Therapy students at Alzheimer Scotland:

Changing Perceptions Forever

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In January 2015, I arrived at Alzheimer Scotland to join in bringing the work of the Allied Health Professions (AHP) to the forefront of dementia care. As the Alzheimer Scotland AHP Practice Education Facilitator, building bridges between people and organisations to support AHP practice placements have been central to my work.

AHP Placement models have come in a variety of shapes and sizes. One size does not fit all and with each new partnership comes a new creative challenge where we work together to shape new models of working that bring benefit to all involved and which fit with the organisational systems we are all part of.

We have had lots of positive feedback as the programme has developed and in this blog, I would like to share some feedback from 26 first year Speech and Language Therapy students at the University of Strathclyde who recently spent two afternoons visiting our services to:

  • Increase their knowledge and understanding of dementia through spending time with people living with dementia and completing the Dementia Informed Practice Level of the Promoting Excellence Framework.
  • Develop and their understanding of the role of a large third sector organisation in working to improve lives for people living with dementia through spending two afternoons within our Alzheimer Scotland services.
  • Raise awareness of role of speech and language therapy in dementia through conversation and inquiry

This was an opportunity for speech and language therapy students at the very beginning of training in their chosen career to dip their toes in the water and begin to think about dementia in relation to their studies.

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On an unusually sunny February 11th, I travelled to Glasgow to meet with speech and language students and staff at the University of Strathclyde with the aim of getting some feedback on their experience of visiting our services. I was curious to know, did two afternoons in our services in Alzheimer Scotland make an impact?

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I was feeling optimistic walking past the newly planted flowerbeds in George Square but wasn’t really prepared for the level of enthusiasm I was met with when I reached the campus. Listening to their reflections, I got the sense that the speech and language therapy students too were surprised by how much they had enjoyed this experience. There was unanimous agreement that the visits had been worthwhile and it seemed that our services in Alzheimer Scotland had made a lasting positive impression. I left with the feeling that the visits had sparked an interest in dementia and I look forward to working with Dr. Wendy Cohen at the University of Strathclyde to explore how we can build of this successful piece of work.

I asked all the students, “During your visits to Alzheimer Scotland services, what was important for you? “

And they replied:

And here is a word cloud based on what they thought, putting people living with dementia at the centre.

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On my return to Edinburgh that afternoon, the rain had come on again but the skip in my step remained as I made my way to speak to participants in a recent, “day in the life” learning experience for Dietetics students from Queen Margaret University. More positive feedback there, but that is another story – watch this space…

Perhaps you work or volunteer with people living with dementia and would like to share what inspired you to get involved in the first place? It would be lovely to hear your stories.



Adrienne McDermid-Thomas

Alzheimer Scotland AHP Practice Education Facilitator


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.


2 thoughts on “Speech and Language Therapy students at Alzheimer Scotland:

  1. Lovely to read about the experiences of the Speech and Language students in Alzheimer Scotland settings- we were delighted to welcome them to our day centre and would be keen to offer the same opportunity to future students.

    • Hi Fiona

      Thank you for your comment which I must have missed previously.
      I am currently putting together the programme for this year. We are certainly hoping to do this again and build on the work with a longer Speech and Language Therapy placement too.
      Many thanks for supporting this work.

      Best wishes

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