Allied Health Professionals Adapting Everyday Environments

Living Well at Home with Dementia

An information booklet developed by Community Occupational Therapy

This week’s blog is about an information booklet produced by West Lothian Council. Its design is based on the understanding of how important it is for people to remain as independent and active as possible, and the positive effect this has on health and wellbeing.

This booklet was developed by a group of Community Occupational Therapists in social services who wanted offer practical suggestions, information on available services and how to access support within West Lothian for people living with dementia, their families and carers. Although the tips and advice offered in each section could be relevant to you wherever you live in Scotland. We feel that the booklet could be used in two ways:-

  • For people living with dementia, their families and carers, giving advice and suggestions about issues with day to day tasks.
  • For professionals, to signpost people with dementia, families and carers to services and support.

The booklet covers 16 topic areas that we thought were most important, organised under the following headings: –

Accessing your home; Access inside your home; Living room; Kitchen; Bathroom; Bedrooms; Falls/trip hazards; Fire; Garden; Routines/Patterns; Behaviour; Legal issues; Carer support; General; In your local community; and Contact information.

Possible sources of further help and advice are given at the end of the booklet.

I have shared three of the topics to give you an idea to how we have arranged the information, with a format of questions on the left and practical answers on the right.

Access inside your home: Kitchen Extract from page 4 of the booklet

  • Is the person with dementia eating properly?
  • Does the person with dementia know where to find things in the kitchen?
  • Is the fridge well stocked? Is the food out of date?
  • What type of cooker / fuel is used and are there concerns about operating it safely and/or independently?
  • Are hazardous products stored safely, e.g. matches, sharp knives, scissors, bleach?

CONSIDER …….(in no particular order)

  • Prompt/encourage the person to eat; try to have protected mealtimes and keep them calm/quiet; a food diary can identify likes/dislikes/eating patterns.
  • “Eating well with Dementia – A Carer’s Guide”: a practical eating and drinking guide.
  • Refer to GP (for onward referral to Dietician and/or Speech & Language Therapist) if the person is gaining/losing weight or has problems swallowing.
  • Specialist plates; adapted cutlery; non-slip mat; two-handled cups via the OT Self Selection Service.
  • The Dementia Circle project (funded by Alzheimer Scotland):information about everyday products that can help people with dementia stay independent for longer. Visit http://www.dementiacircle.co.uk/
  • WLC’s Support at Home Service for a telecare assessment, including a Home Safety Alarm, extreme temperature sensor (can be fitted above the cooker) and flood sensors.
  • Review cooking habits: use microwave; electric instead of gas; or disconnect/isolate cooker. NB: the activity of preparing meals may be an important role, which can often be adapted to reduce risks.
  • Use of a loud kitchen timer to alert the person when food is ready.
  • Picture signage on appliances/doors; glass cupboard doors/removal of doors to show the contents; a communication board/book where reminders and notes can be left.
  • Reorganise / de-clutter so that items most often used are the most easily accessible.
  • Speak with family/visitors – what have they observed?; can someone be designated to check food ‘use by’ dates regularly?
  • Consider delivery of frozen ready meals. NB: can be offered by the Apetito service via Social Work Referral.
  • Is the person with dementia getting their own shopping? Consider local shopping services.
  • Consider a cupboard lock or safe box to ensure hazardous items are safely stored

Page 8 of the booklet

Page 13 of the booklet

Page 13 of the booklet

The key message in this booklet is that you don’t have to do it on your own. There is help available from health and social services, voluntary organisations, and third sector organisations such as Alzheimer Scotland.

You can download a FREE copy of the booklet here

Authors: Fiona Clyne, Lucinda Cronk, Roz Gordon & Kathryn McNab, Community Occupational Therapy Service, West Lothian Council. Strathbrock Partnership Centre.  01506 775666.

On reflection

We have had a fantastic response locally to our booklet, giving us a great sense of achievement in knowing that this information is really needed.

Recently, we have also had a lovely endorsement from June Andrews (another West Lothian resident!) who has kindly written a preface for the booklet:-

If you or someone you know has dementia it can be hard to know where to get advice. I am really pleased to see this practical and useful guide for people who live in West Lothian, because I live here too.

Getting a diagnosis can be frightening and upsetting. You need the support of friends, family and neighbours, but most of all you need information. Don’t forget to ask for help. In this booklet you will find practical things to do, and where to go for support. I know it will be helpful because your local experts really do care.

Please feel free to comment on the blog, ask us questions, telling us “what is important to you” to being able to adapt everyday environments

pic-3-ConvertImageFiona Clyne

Team Manager (Occupational Therapy), West Lothian Council

As a team manager in a Community Occupational Therapy Service my “day job” is to manage and supervise a team of occupational therapists. I enjoy the problem-solving discussions this involves and still even manage to visit a few clients occasionally! I am also part of our internal Dementia Working Group (along with Roz and Kathryn) and last year we successfully delivered the Promoting Excellence: Dementia Skilled training to the occupational therapy team. This training has provided a universal level of understanding for the team, as well as identifying any gaps in knowledge & service delivery. Our Working Group aims to keep the team up-to-date with developments, and promote awareness of dementia among other professionals as well as our clients. We often work with Alzheimer Scotland and the local Memory Treatment Service.

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