For over ten years occupational therapists in Lanarkshire have been running memory management groups. These groups are for people who have a problem with their memory and wish to do something themselves to improve this. It aims to enable people to be as independent as possible in their daily lives.
The groups are suitable for those with mild memory difficulties who feel it is impacting on their daily life. It is essential that the person is aware of their memory problem and actively wants to manage this effectively. People are referred to our groups via their consultant psychiatrist or GP. Everyone is visited at home by the occupational therapists prior to the group starting to talk through how the group could help and if they would like to take part.
The informal structure of the group allows people to gain support from others in a similar situation as themselves. Occupational therapist staff facilitate discussion, whilst working through a programme and offer practical advice related to their concerns regarding their memory.
Through discussion we assist people to work out solutions to the difficulties they are experiencing with memory problems. This is done by suggesting techniques and strategies to assist their memory in order to manage their day to day lives more effectively. The groups are generally small for approximately 4-6 people, taking place over four to five with each session lasting 90 minutes.
Some of the topics included in the group are:
- Remembering names
- Staying safe at home
- Getting out and about
- Tips and strategies
- Enhancing well-being
- Keeping the brain active
We have practical materials we demonstrate in the group and provide what we can after each session as from experience individuals are more likely to use the strategies suggested if they have the required material rather than having to go and get the item themselves.
To evaluate the group we use “Emotional Touchpoints” which has been an effective way for those attending to share how they have found their group experience. For those unfamiliar with this method, ‘Emotional Touchpoints is a powerful means of helping people to share the aspects of experiences that are important to them – rather than the things service providers think are important.’ (Scottish Health Council, 2016). Below are a few examples of what people have said about this group.
“I now feel hopeful but I didn’t before I came here. I used to isolate myself and do things alone as I was embarrassed if I got things wrong. I now willingly go out with others and say yes to invites. I feel I’ve changed. I feel more positive and see a difference in myself since coming to this group. I’m relieved as I used to think about my memory all the time but I’m now at the stage I go with the flow and I’m enjoying myself.”
“I’m happy I’ve been involved with others with the same problem and feel I can now handle stuff I couldn’t have before. I’ve valued the hints and tips shared in the group and hopeful that what I’ve learned will stay with me and allow me to enjoy myself.”
“I’ve felt welcome here right from the start and quickly felt involved. I’m relieved to know I’m not the only one going through this. I’m hopeful; by using what I’ve got from here that I will be able to manage what is ahead of me.”
“I was really anxious about my memory at the start but now feel inspired and more hopeful and confident in myself and about my memory. I’m using techniques eg in the pub yesterday I was listening for someone’s name being said as I knew him from years ago and was talking to him but couldn’t remember his name. Being supported here has made this a great group and I will miss coming.”
Thank you for reading our blog post. we would love to hear what you think and if you have experience of working with occupational therapy
Gill Gowran, Specialist Occupational Therapist, NHSL