Movement for Memories

Images kindly provided by Edinburgh Leisure & cannot be used without their permission

Hello! My name is Sarah Aitken, I’m a fourth-year Occupational Therapy student at Queen Margaret University. I’ve been on placement with Alzheimer’s Scotland since September 3rd and have been learning all about the services and groups they are involved with.  I attended a session at Edinburgh Leisure to discuss their new project “Movement for Memories”

I was intrigued to know more so I met with Sam Scott, Health Development Officer for dementia within Edinburgh Leisure. He holds great passion for his new project “Movement for Memories”. Sam informed me of his wealth of knowledge he had gained from his involvement in previous projects and together with the use of current research he has set out to better the life of people living with dementia.

What is Movement for Memories?

Edinburgh Leisure obtained funding from Life Changes Trust to bring this new project to life. The trust is funded by the Big Lottery. Movement for Memories is designed to support people living with dementia to be active and also people who are not diagnosed but are showing signs and symptoms of dementia can also join the project.

With various activities, including swimming, gym, golf, tennis and fitness classes there is something for everyone. To join the project, you either self-refer yourself by phone, email or on the Edinburgh Leisure website. You can also be referred by a health professional or dementia link worker.

If you are referred to Movement for Memories a member of Edinburgh Leisure’s Active Communities team will meet you for a 1 to 1 to help you identify your interests and provide the appropriate support, you need to get active.  Edinburgh Leisure offers a Dementia Friendly Buddy Service, delivered by volunteers; supporting you to access a range of activities more confidently.  For example, they might meet you at reception to show you where to go; they may help you set up gym equipment or support you round the golf course.  All Movement for Memories participants will receive an Edinburgh Leisure Get Active card providing 12-weeks free access to gym, swim, golf, tennis and fitness classes followed by 9 months of concessionary access. Sam described the project to be tailored made for people with dementia. Through the project carer’s of people with dementia are also entitled to a carers access card which allows them discounted access to Edinburgh Leisure facilities.

Movement for Memories also delivers an outreach service, where Edinburgh Leisure’s Active Communities team work with Dementia Communities (such as dementia cafes or dementia support groups) to provide free physical activity sessions for people living with dementia. Delivered in partnership with local dementia services; activities will be based on the needs of the group and can take place in community venues or Edinburgh Leisure venues. Sessions will provide a fun introduction to different activities that will support people with dementia and their carers get active. Activities will be chosen by participants and will run once a month or over a rolling six-week programme.

How did it all come about?

Research into the benefits of physical exercise has proven a need to help encourage people living with dementia to participate in meaningful activities which allows them to keep active. To begin with, Movement for Memories team set out to find out what people living with dementia wanted from Edinburgh Leisure by visiting support groups, day clubs, care homes and getting the opinion of those who will benefit from the service. With the information gathered they developed their Buddy Service as well as an Outreach Service as this was the type of support people with dementia said would help them to be physically active

Individuals living with dementia all experience dementia differently, this results in everyone needing a different, personal and tailored level of support which these classes/buddy support sessions allow.

How do you get involved in volunteering?

Edinburgh Leisure works with volunteers to support individuals living with dementia to participate in physical activities. If you are living in Edinburgh and are looking for a volunteer opportunity and enjoy physical activity, this could be for you! Edinburgh Leisure are seeking volunteers to help support their Movement for the Memories project. Their volunteers currently come from all walks of life; from students to health professionals to people just wanting to support people with dementia. If you are interested in volunteering for Edinburgh Leisure visit the vacancies section of their webpage.

Movement for Memories volunteers will receive core Edinburgh Leisure training and dementia specific training and will be subject to a PVG check before they begin their work with the individuals living with dementia. All Movement for Memories volunteers are supported by Sam and his team and they are open to questions, suggestions and enquires regarding the project.

Thank you for reading this blog please and we would love to hear how you keep physically active when living with dementia or supporting someone with dementia.


Sarah Aitken, 4th year occupational therapy student in partnership with Sam Scott, Health Development Officer (Dementia), Edinburgh Leisure
Contact details and further questions

For further details or questions about Movement for Memories please do not hesitate to get in touch with Sam Scott.
Tel: 0131 458 2100 | Mob: 07974 174363.


Occupational Therapy working together in Scotland for #OTWeek2018 #Dementia


Occupational Therapy Week is a yearly celebration of the occupational therapy profession. It is an opportunity for occupational therapists to be loud and proud; and also encourage other people who have benefited from occupational therapy to tell the difference it has made in their lives.

We wanted to celebrate the week by sharing work we are doing in Scotland to support people living with dementia, for people to know who we are and how we CAN help and hopefully then impact on this years campaign theme, to ‘Securing the future of occupational therapy’

A Scottish Working Group for Occupational Therapists & #Dementia

A group of occupational therapists, passionate about all things dementia have established the Occupational Therapy Dementia Working Group (Scotland) in partnership with the Royal College of Occupational Therapists and Alzheimer Scotland.

One of the main remits is to support integration of Scotland’s AHP dementia policy, Connecting People, Connecting Support ( (Alzheimer Scotland 2017). The purpose of the group is to bring together occupational therapists, share skills and expertise about our role when working with people with dementia and their families and to give the occupational therapists a collective voice.

The group brings together Occupational Therapist’s working in Scotland in the NHS, social services, housing, and 3rd sector, strengthening the occupational therapy input in dementia assessment, treatment and interventions.

We would like to share with you 5 things you need to know about our group

1. Active on social media #WithOTuCAN

Since the start of 2018, we took a leap of faith and took part in an improvement project supporting us to be active on social media and help establish a new twitter account,  @AHPDementia. We have absolutely loved being so directly engaged with the public and truly believe we are making a difference, sharing hints and tips to living well with dementia on twitter. You can read about this work on our blog post in June 2018.

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2. Develop, support and share Occupational Therapy knowledge

From the beginning of the group meeting in 2016, we were passionate about sharing who occupational therapists are and how we can help. We have since developed a post card and self-management leaflet offering hints and tips to living well with dementia in partnership with Alzheimer Scotland and Royal College of Occupational Therapy.

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We know this work is being shared both locally and nationally and we will continue to develop, support and share specialist Occupational Therapy knowledge and interventions to strengthen the Occupational Therapy role and remit in dementia care in Scotland.

3. Bring partners together to share practice

We also organise an annual training event for Occupational Therapists with an interest in dementia care in Scotland to share practice and at times challenges colleagues, not to do more but to do things differently. We recently hosted an event for over 100 occupational therapists with the remit of “Enabling everyday environments” and began to debate what Occupational Therapy universal, targeted and specialist interventions are when working with people with dementia and their families. We will  share this work as a blog post and maybe even a poster at an RCOT conference!

4. Person, Environment and Occupation in everything we do.

When we work as occupational therapists, regardless of practice setting and when we established our new group, we were clear on our vision – it will have a focus on the Person-Environment-Occupation (PEO) Model of Occupational Performance. We keep this at the forefront of all our “blethers” about who we are and what we CAN do and believe it is one of our greatest strength, our intrinsic understanding of the relationships between a person, an environment, and occupations (activity).

5. Trying something new

As a group we always thinking of new ways to make a difference to people lives with dementia and in 2019 we will be looking to share our tweets as short recordings, we will be testing using online surgeries at Alzheimer Scotland for people to ask us questions and will also be having “blethers” again during Dementia Awareness Week (Scotland) where people can “ask an occupational therapist” a question and we can share hints and tips to help people live well at home and in their local communities.

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Keep in touch

If you would like to know more about the group please get in touch and email our chair at, follow us on social media at #WithOTuCAN &  #AHPConnectingPeople  or leave us a question or a comment on this blog post.



Julie Brown @JuliebrownOT

Carrie Milligan @CarrieOTmh

Lynn Dorman @Dorman_lynn

A National Appreciative Inquiry Leadership Project

Supporting #AHPConnectingPeople

I am delighted to share the news that a group of allied health professionals in Scotland are being supported by the Elizabeth Casson Leadership Grant to develop and implement a national appreciative inquiry leadership project with a group of over 20 allied health professional (AHP) clinical leaders from all the health boards in Scotland.


The clinical leaders come together as the Alzheimer Scotland AHP dementia forum, a group with a membership of over 20 allied health professionals from the 14 health boards across Scotland.  The Alzheimer Scotland AHP Forum have been meeting since 2017 and have a common goal to integrate Connecting People, Connecting Support (CPCS) (Alzheimer Scotland, 2017) in their local partnership and board areas.  CPCS is the first AHP evidence informed dementia policy document within the UK, that looks to transform the contribution of the allied health professionals to dementia care. This policy document arose from one of the key commitments in Scotland’s dementia strategy (Scottish Government 2013) and the delivery of CPCS is now a key commitment in Scotland’s third dementia Strategy (Scottish Government 2017).

The leadership project is a tailored appreciative inquiry leadership programme building on the foundations of appreciative inquiry to lead and transform how AHP work with people living with dementia in Scotland in integrated services.  Appreciative inquiry is about relating to and working with people in a different way to achieve the outcomes that matter to them and focuses on doing more of what is already working (Scottish Social Services Council 2016)

This innovative leadership development experience offers an opportunity to the Alzheimer Scotland Forum members to develop their own personal role as dementia clinical leaders regardless of their title or place of work and to see themselves as agents of change who can influence all stakeholders from chief officers in the integrated joint boards and people who live with dementia in their local communities.

The leadership programme philosophy and underpinning constructs, support the understanding of the complexity of the delivery environment within Health, Social Care and the Third sector. The programme will provide fluidity, ownership and puts the leadership learning in a partnership relationship with Fiona MacNeill Associates (FMA) allowing an innovative approach where FMA will act as the Thinking Partner to the Alzheimer Scotland AHP forum members, providing tailored support within a flexible delivery framework and we will be in a position to support the AHP dementia clinical leaders of the future.

I am particularly delighted about this leadership programme, even after 33 years as an occupational therapist, I know my own learning as a leader is still developing. Through learning from the professional facilitators at FMA and with my peer group in the Alzheimer Scotland AHP Dementia Forum, we can support each other in our appreciative inquiry leadership journey to truly transform our contribution in dementia care in Scotland.  I wrote in 2013 that to be a transformational leader you have to welcome new ideas, embrace chaos, set a new course with motivated, engaged staff, be willing to be a lifelong learner and harness all our creativity to find new ways of working. (Hunter 2013). This new leadership programme supported by the Elizabeth Casson Grant will allow me to put my ideas into practice.

We will be sharing all our leadership learning in a number of creative and innovative ways including blogs, posters and at conferences locally and nationally, so please get in touch with me if you would like to find out more at We will also be providing regular updates that will be made available on the Elizabeth Casson website.

You can find more about the overall AHP dementia programme at Alzheimer Scotland at or follow the work on social media at @AHPDementia and #AHPConnectingPeople and @elaineahpmh.


Elaine Hunter, national AHP consultant, Alzheimer Scotland



Alzheimer Scotland 2017 Connecting people, connecting support. Transforming the contribution of allied health professionals in dementia in Scotland 2017-


Hunter EP (2013) The Elizabeth  Casson Memorial Lecture 2013:  Transformational leadership in occupational  therapy — delivering change through  conversations. British Journal of Occupational  Therapy, 76(8), 346–354.

Scottish Government  2013 Scotland’s National Dementia Strategy 2013-2016 Scottish Government Edinburgh

Scottish Government  2017 Scotland’s National Dementia Strategy 2017-2020 Scottish Government Edinburgh

Scottish Social Services Council 2016  Appreciative Inquiry Resource Pack

Life as an Occupational therapy student at @Alzscot

Meet Sarah

My name is Sarah Aitken. I am level four Occupational Therapy student at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh and have been on placement for the last eight weeks with Alzheimer Scotland in Edinburgh. Personally, in my leisure time I love to travel. I enjoy swimming for exercise and relaxation plus I do scrap booking when I find time.

Why Occupational Therapy?

As Occupational Therapists we aim to help empower people to facilitate and maintain independence. We work collaboratively with the service users to help overcome barriers to enhance personal satisfaction and general well being. I chose to study Occupational Therapy for the following 5 reasons:

1. Occupational therapy helped a close family member when I was growing up. Seeing the practical benefits and difference it can make inspired me to join the profession.

2. Occupational therapists work with such a diverse range of conditions and people from all walks of life and I love to learn from the people we work with as well as hopefully teach them new skills.

3. I would hate a desk job, there is something so valuable about occupation, participating in activities and getting to know the people you are working with.

4. I enjoy the nature of problem solving and finding solutions.

5. I love that it’s a career that could make a huge difference to people’s everyday life’s.

What have I been involved with at Alzheimer’s Scotland

When I started the placement, eight weeks seemed like a lifetime, but as they say “time flies when you’re having fun”. I have been lucky enough to engage with some amazing individuals living with dementia and an equally amazing team working within the Alzheimer Scotland Edinburgh locality.

During my time with Alzheimer’s Scotland, I have learned that people can live well with dementia and that, with the right support anything is possible. I have visited dementia cafes; a wonderful place to gain peer and professional support while having a chat in a safe space.

One place I spent a lot of my time is day opportunities, the name given to the groups who meet weekly to engage in activities. These clubs are full of enthusiastic, inspiring staff and volunteers who couldn’t do more for the people attending.

I also had the opportunity to become a ‘dementia friend’ and have been involved with increasing dementia awareness through the use of social media. I chose to engage with the social media platform, Instagram, under the account @AHPDementia where I have focused on carers, my experience and the AHP approach as outlined in Connecting People, Connecting Support.

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I have written about the rights of carers, how carers can support themselves in order to support others and also about reducing carers roles and responsibilities with handy tips.

I have also had the opportunity to attend a Royal College of Occupational Therapy and Alzheimer Scotland workshop focused on “Adapting Everyday Environments” for individuals living with dementia where I heard from a range of speakers from Alzheimer’s Scotland, Royal College of Occupational Therapists and local therapists in Aberdeen and Dumfries.

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3 things I take away from my final placement?

1. Teamwork makes the dream work
As much of a cliché this statement is, the team work shown by the people I have been working with has proven to be unbreakable. Nothing has ever been too much of a problem and they invite every new person into their team with open arms.

2. Passion powers valuable outcomes
I learnt from the day care organiser and a wonderful team of support workers who provide the day opportunities club with a range of activities weekly. The staff working there are incredibly passionate about making the experience as enjoyable and person centred as possible and I respect the hard work they put into making this possible.

3. Don’t be afraid
I learnt from my equally passionate educator that Occupational therapists don’t give themselves enough credit for the valuable work they carryout every day and should .
• give a voice to the incredible work we do on a daily basis.
• challenge yourself
• share your profession with whoever will listen, be proud!

Thank you for reading my blog post and please leave me any comments or questions.

Sarah Aitken
4th year occupational therapy student at Queen Margaret University

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How an Allied Health Professional can help you to live well with dementia

The 15th October 2018 marked the first ever national Allied Health Professionals day in the UK – a chance for us to recognise the amazing and crucial role Allied Health Professionals (AHP) play in healthcare and wellbeing.


On the day I took the opportunity to chat about the support Allied Health Professions can offer to help people live well with dementia:

What is an allied health professional? Whether it’s when I’m hosting an Alzheimer Scotland AHP stand or with people who attend our Alzheimer Scotland services, to even simply have a blether and a catch up, it’s question I often hear.  My reply is always the same: we’re a collective group of health care professionals that include Arts Therapists, Dietitians, Occupational Therapists, Orthopists, Orthotist, Paramedics, Physiotherapists, Podiatrists Prosthetists, Radiographers, and Speech and Language Therapists.

For AHP Day, we really wanted to spread the word about the positive impact Allied Health Professionals can make for people living with dementia.

All allied health professionals will most probably meet someone living with dementia at some point in their professional or personal lives, so we often say that dementia is “every AHP’s business” and our common goal is to enable people living with dementia and their family carers to have positive, fulfilling and independent lives for as long as possible.

So how can the advice of Allied Health Professionals benefit people living with dementia? Occupational Therapist, for example, can enable people to continue to work after a diagnosis. They can suggest adjustments such as reducing background noise, flexibility with breaks, use of memory prompts and organising the desk with only the necessary tools required for the job.

Here are some more examples of the type of advice AHPs provide, we are also featured on our twitter account @AHPdementia:

Adapting everyday environments

In the garden consider the heights of fences, raised areas such as flower beds & decorative path edges. If low or blend into the garden they may become a trip hazard. Consider increasing heights & having contrasting colours.

Maximising Physical Wellbeing

There are many benefits to incorporating physical activity into people’s routines including prevention of mobility problems

 Maximising Psychological Wellbeing

If you are a family member or friend of someone living with dementia, encourage them to keep doing all the activities that they enjoy when they can to help boost wellbeing – it can often be helpful to also join in yourself.

Supporting families and carers

If a person living with dementia is reminiscing, you could help capture these memories by looking at photographs, looking up places they talk about on the internet. You could even put together a scrapbook or storybook so they could be looked & talked about at any time

Want to find out more?

You can join the conversation across social media via #AHPConnectingPeople where a Allied Health Professionals also talk about the important roles their sector can play, and the tips which can make a difference via this blog and over our Instagram and twitter account: @AHPDementia.


In Scotland, the AHP approach in dementia has been developed which aims to maximise the AHP contribution to high quality, cost effective dementia services that are tailored to the needs of the individual, reflects the best available evidence and is delivered by a skilled AHP workforce.  The AHP approach focuses on 5 key areas, which should be considered within the overall AHP assessment and rehabilitation approach for the people we support. You can find out more about AHP dementia policy by searching for #AHPConnectingPeople or heading to

Thanks for reading this blog post and we would love to hear how you celebrated the day #AHPsDay

 Useful resources

You see what happened across the UK on the 15th October using #AHPsDay or #AHPsDayScot

You can join in the conversation with allied health professionals everyday using @AHPDementia and #AHPConnectingPeople