Home based memory rehabilitation in the Borders, Scotland An occupational therapists personal perspective

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I am an occupational therapist working in NHS Borders as part of the mental health service for older adults. Predominantly I provide a service to those living with dementia helping to adapt current and develop new activities to help retain independence and achieve wellbeing.

As part of a national project NHS Borders participated in the initial pilot of the Home-Based-Memory-Rehabilitation (HBMR) programme. This concept was originally developed by Mary McGrath, a pioneering Occupational Therapist from Belfast, and was packaged and further evidenced by an innovative team of occupational therapists in NHS Dumfries & Galloway. The pilot consisted of 6 individuals living with dementia, in the early stages, within NHS Borders. It began in December 2016 and consisted of a 6 week programme delivered in the individual’s home implementing memory strategies in a systematic way. This was then reviewed 3 months later and reviewed just recently, at one year, in December 2017.

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In the Borders HBMR has been positively received by NHS colleagues, the 6 individuals living with dementia and their families.  Obtaining feedback that you have made a difference in people’s lives by helping people regain their independence via establishing new routines and helping them feel more in control day to day is what, I feel, being an occupational therapist is all about. It is gratifying to have a beautifully presented resource that can be shared with individuals and their families; to have had the opportunity to spend time working through it with them has been an enjoyable experience. When I returned at three months and after one year I found that many of those strategies and routines that were still being implemented. This really highlights how much of a positive change we as an occupational therapy service have made to their participation, wellbeing and self efficacy. I feel that is a fantastic achievement.

The individuals involved in the process have given feedback that this would be beneficial to everyone who receives a diagnosis of Dementia. It helps reinforce that things can improve, in that everyday memory problems can be reduced and they still have the ability to learn new things. This programme puts the focus back on what the individual can do, their remaining skills, and not on what they are no longer able to do.

I believe providing the resource to the individual and their families is instrumental to the programme; they can keep it as they continue on their journey with dementia and return to it as any new issues potentially arise. The folder of tip sheets is colourful and well presented and providing the materials (whiteboard, memory book, prompt card, notebook, etc) to the individual makes it easier for them to test out potential new memory strategies. It also, I believe, reinforces to the individual that they are important to the service and they are worth this investment.

The amount of sessions required and the opportunity to return periodically really gives you a chance to get to know the individual and their families, which fosters a good therapeutic relationship and has been such an enjoyable experience for me personally.

As an occupational therapist I found this pilot to have been a fantastic experience and something that I am proud to provide to the people I work with in NHS Borders. It has been an educational and exciting process being part of the wider occupational therapy community piloting this on a national level. I look forward to continuing to work on this project to roll it out for others to benefit within the service.

Thank you for reading my first ever blog, please get in touch and let me know what you think?

Louise

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You can find out more about home based memory rehabilitation here

Contributor

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Louise Shanks,

Occupational Therapist, NHS Borders

I am an occupational therapist working in NHS Borders as part of the mental health service for older adults. Predominantly I provide a service to those living with dementia helping to adapt current and develop new activities to help retain independence and achieve wellbeing.

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2 thoughts on “Home based memory rehabilitation in the Borders, Scotland An occupational therapists personal perspective

  1. Hi Louise

    I found your blog very interesting and would love to find out more about Home Based Memory Rehabilitation and your role.

    I have attached my email address, maybe we could discuss this further?

    Regards

    Fiona

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