An AHP workforce skilled in Dementia Care

Time flies when you are an AHP Practice Education Facilitator: personal reflections

It has been a quick couple of years. My one year secondment to Alzheimer Scotland from NHS Lothian became two and now with a few extra months on top, I am working hard to make the best of what time I have left – making hay while the sun shines as my grandmother would have advised! She also told me I should “work hard, play hard” but that is for another blog, another time.

For many of us now, a working life is not about one job or a single “career”. I am an AHP Practice Education Facilitator on Mondays and Thursdays, leading the AHP Practice Placement Programme here at Alzheimer Scotland. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I am a lecturer in Art Psychotherapy at Queen Margaret University. I will return to NHS Lothian in May to my position as an Art Psychotherapist working in forensic mental health. Although the jobs are separate, for me it is important to have some sense of cohesion and now seems like a good moment to reflect on how the mosaic fits together. What will I take back to NHS Lothian and to Queen Margaret University when I say goodbye to this new (and I think innovative) role at Alzheimer Scotland at the end of April? Thinking about the last couple of years, I have learned so much.  Here are the things which come to mind above all else.

Keep on sharing

 

I have blogged, tweeted and instagrammed at Alzheimer Scotland as well as creating posters, leaflets and presentations that share what we are doing as we are doing it. Using social media professionally has been a really interesting and connecting experience and is something I can continue regardless of my role. As an Art Psychotherapist, working with people in a confidential environment, where art work is made for personal reflection rather than exhibiting and where the work requires an introspective approach, it is somehow easy to forget to share our stories and successes. There are so many interesting people, ideas and projects out there and hopefully some will also be interested in what I will continue to share about the world of art psychotherapy

Make Friends, build bridges

As an AHP, it can be tempting to keep things simple and to work quite independently to meet the needs of the people we are working with. But what about all the lost opportunities to learn from others and bring together experience to generate and nurture new ideas and projects?! In supporting AHP dementia education of our AHP students at Alzheimer Scotland, I have met some fabulous and inspiring people working across the sectors in a range of professions. I won’t forget what I have learned from them and will in future be more ready to reach out beyond my comfort zone to connect with others for creative partnership working. Without great people, who are prepared to take a risk and give it a shot, there would be no great work.

Think big, start small

I feel really honoured to have been part of the AHP student project that has taken a national approach to 3rd sector AHP Education and it has been exciting to think on an organisational rather than service level with a national partnership approach. Although the bigger picture has always been kept in mind, tests of change have been small and we have evaluated the little things as an intrinsic part of what is done. This widening of horizons whilst making change happen in small but significant steps has been challenging but effective and I plan on making sure I don’t lose sight of the bigger picture while focussing on the details.

Spread your wings and fly

The secondment opportunity has stretched me at times. I have learned about myself – what I am good at but also where I could well improve! My eyes have been opened to the world around me: dementia, AHPs, education, policy…. It has given me a different lens through which to see myself and my work. Surely this can only be a good thing. I am very sad to be leaving Alzheimer Scotland and the Building Bridges Practice Education Programme still feels very much like a work in progress but I look forward to going back to a familiar role with fresh energy and a new eye.

As for the Building Bridges Practice Education Programme, I am sure that my colleagues here at Alzheimer Scotland are ready to pick up the baton and run with this programme that was developed in partnership and has worked. Supporting our AHP students to be informed, skilled, and inspired about dementia will continue beyond my role and I am confident that AHP Dementia education will continue to grow and flourish to really make a big difference to the wellbeing of people living with dementia.

I will be keeping a close eye on this blog to hear all about what happens next. For more information, please contact EHunter@Alzscot.org twitter: @elaineahpmh. A link to our leaflet is here: http://www.alzscot.org/assets/0002/3231/AHP_Infographic_Updated_PAGES.pdf

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