Informed, Skilled, Inspired

Looking towards another year of AHP Placements at Alzheimer Scotland

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby

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There are seasonal years based on nature’s patterns and calendar years determined by the movement of the planets. Financial years provide a structure for accountancy and there are academic years to provide a means of measuring quantity of study for learners of all ages. For those of us who work in education, the rhythm of the academic calendar is at the forefront. And although there may be a common fantasy of long hazy summer holidays, in my experience, the summer months are potentially the busiest.

Most student placements occur just once in the annual academic calendar and with each annual cycle, arrives a fresh opportunity to review and refine processes. Even before the current academic year comes to an end, the work to plan for the coming year is well under way. Before I head of on annual leave (and to contend with the midges), I would like to take this opportunity to catch my breath and let you know about our plans for the coming academic year and the work with the allied health professional students in Alzheimer Scotland. As we go along, we continue to ask for feedback from all involved in the programme and this year’s plans are influenced by last year’s feedback.

An Informed AHP workforce

I have already blogged about an energised response from Speech and Language Therapy students studying at Strathclyde University, who were able to visit Alzheimer Scotland services in the Glasgow area and am looking forward to repeating this model this coming year.

Having tried and tested this model for these students, at an early stage in their training and having seen the potential to transform the students perceptions about dementia and the role of Alzheimer Scotland, in the new academic year, we will pilot a similar model, linking Dietetics students from Queen Margaret University within the Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Cafes in the Lothian area.

These visits by speech and language therapy and dietitians will be embedded in wider learning at the Universities and will be offered in conjunction with Dementia Friends training and participation in the Informed level of the Promoting Excellence framework

It is our hope that these initial visits to Alzheimer Scotland services will allow some students to discover an interest or even a passion for this work.

“Human resources are like natural resources; they’re often buried deep. You have to go looking for them; they’re not just lying around on the surface. You have to create the circumstances where they show themselves.” (Ken Robinson 2010)

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A skilled AHP workforce

We will continue to provide a number of more substantial AHP placement experiences in our work to prepare the future generation of AHP for their dementia work.

The art psychotherapy and music therapy placements will continue to take place over the full academic year and we are looking at ways to ensure that services that have benefited from the students’ input can continue to access the arts therapies.

Our Occupational Therapy placements are also continuing and will be able to build on the varied and innovative work from previous years, providing a skilled approach to maintaining meaningful engagement in the things that are important to the people that come to Alzheimer Scotland services.

New to the programme will be physiotherapy. We potentially have three different higher education institutions involved and will be working with a “split placement” model where students spend 2 of their three placement days in an Alzheimer Scotland service whilst based in an NHS setting. Maintaining our physical health and fitness is so important and I am looking forward to hearing feedback from this promising new venture.

This summer will allow time to stand back and view the landscape of the AHP student placement programme as it has looked to date and also to visualise new landscapes based on the best of what we have to offer. There will be much to do to make it all happen but I am looking forward to 2016-17 already! See you then.

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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.


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