Allied health professional Enhancing Daily Living: Home base memory rehabilitation #OTHBMR – An update

On Wednesday there was a workshop with over 40 occupational therapy staff from across Scotland to talking about home based memory rehabilitation. Home based memory rehabilitation was originally developed by Mary McGrath (2013) and is an evidence-based, occupational therapist-led, six week intervention. It takes place in the person’s own home with a family member, where possible and is based on principles of cognitive rehabilitation. It aims to teach the person to compensate for their memory deficits and includes minor adaptations to the home environment to support these strategies. There are also four key principles that Mary shared in Dementia in Scotland (2016:23) that can help all of us cope a bit better with dementia:

  1. Don’t multi-task. Focus on one thing at a time. Whether that’s what you’d planned to make for dinner or trying to recall the name of a school friend from a photograph, putting all of your attention on the task at hand puts less strain on your memory.
  2. Don’t guess. If you don’t know, you don’t know and that’s fine. For a person with dementia, the process of making a guess can store that information in their mind, whether that information is right or wrong. For example, if somebody asks what day it is, don’t urge them to work it out for themselves, tell them and then reinforce the answer by encouraging them to repeat it and write it down.
  3. Dementia doesn’t define you. It’s very easy to start defining someone (or yourself) by their dementia. However, you must remember that there is more to someone than their dementia. Loss of self-confidence can have a big impact on a person with dementia’s trust in their own ability to remember things or carry out tasks. 
  1. Don’t over care. For many family members and carers it is a natural instinct to want to support the person with dementia as much as they can. This over caring can mean that even tasks and responsibilities that the person in still capable of achieving are taken away and that can contribute to further decline. Where it is safe to do so, people should be encouraged to continue being involved in familiar activities.

Home based memory rehabilitation has been successfully implemented in Scotland by the occupational therapy team in NHS Dumfries and Galloway. You can hear from four people who have been involved on the positive impact of the approach to their daily lives in the video below.

We are now collaborating in Scotland to test home based rehabilitation in 12 areas of Scotland and you can see from our photo album below who is involved.

National team supporting the work

NHS Dumfries and Galloway, Queen Margaret University & Alzheimer Scotland.

Keep in touch:

We will continue to share with you our progress on home based memory rehabilitation through this blog and on our community of practice

You can also follow #OTHBMR to find our more or post us a question on this blog

Thank you

McGrath M P 2013 Promoting safety in the home: The home-based Memory Rehabilitation Programme for persons with mild Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

Techniques and strategies for improving memory 2016 Dementia in Scotland issue 90 page 23


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