Educational opportunities for Allied Health Professionals (AHPs); translating a rights-based approach to practice

Occupational therapy internship pathway

Since 2013, the Division of Occupational Therapy and Arts Therapies at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh have worked with Santander Universities UK and Alzheimer Scotland, to develop and create an occupational therapy internship pathway.  This programme has produced several important outcomes of relevance illustrated in the pathway below:

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One of these outcomes included the recognition early on of a gap in educational provision connecting allied health professionals (AHPs) existing knowledge and skills, towards expertise as part of the dementia practice level of the Promoting Excellence Framework (2011).  Our response to this identified gap was to extend our partnership work beyond the internship programme, to develop a Master’s level module entitled:

‘Developing rights-based practice for Allied Health Professionals (AHP) working with people living with dementia, their families and carers’

Background to MSc module

We co-created, designed and have co-delivered in partnership with Alzheimer Scotland, this module at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh since 2016.  It is a module specifically designed for AHP’s who are interested in adopting, understanding and gaining an appreciation of what a rights-based approach to their practice might look and feel like.  This is important because a rights-based approach frames the first Scottish Government AHP policy, published by Alzheimer Scotland, ‘Connecting People, Connecting Support: Transforming the allied health professionals’ contribution to supporting people living with dementia in Scotland, 2017-2020’.  This policy influences how AHPs in Scotland can enhance their support for people living with dementia, their families and carers; one aim of which is to sustain and enable people living with dementia to live positive, fulfilling and independent lives for as long as possible.

Consequently, ‘Connecting People, Connecting Support’, outlines an AHP Approach which encompasses five key areas, these being;

  1. Supporting families and carers as equal partners
  2. Enhancing daily living
  3. Adapting everyday environments
  4. Maximizing psychological wellbeing
  5. Maximizing physical wellbeing

These five key elements form the basis of the MSc module content to support AHP’s in practice to develop expertise when working with people living with dementia, their families and carers.

What the module involves

The module is delivered over three contact days (9.15am to 4.15pm) incorporating a variety of learning and teaching activities on campus at Queen Margaret University.  The final student assessment is a presentation, delivered at the Alzheimer Scotland office based in Edinburgh.   Module content initially considers the development and publication of the Charter of Rights for People with Dementia and their Carers in Scotland (2009), guided by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, including consideration of the methods through which a human rights-based approach can be applied to practice, such as the use of the PANEL principles (participation, accountability, non-discrimination, empowerment, legality).

A variety of visiting lecturers from across the allied health professions share examples of their evidence informed practice and knowledge of working with people living with dementia, to support enhanced rehabilitation and enablement aimed towards improved practice and personal outcomes for people living with dementia.  This includes learning and teaching informed and led by members of the Scottish Dementia Working Group (SDWG), a national campaigning and awareness-raising group whose members all have a diagnosis of dementia.  Additional online, self-directed learning is undertaken in between the three contact days, to help prepare students as part of teaching activities, including the final assessment.

Progress

To date, 38 practitioners (occupational therapists, physiotherapists, podiatrists) have undertaken this module, including international AHP’s from Spain, Poland, Japan etc.  It is anticipated, in part by the diversity of AHP students undertaking this module and the range of learning activities offered, that people living with dementia will experience AHP services delivered by therapists who are committed to an approach that drives improvement, innovation and research in the delivery of high-quality, responsive, rights-based and person-centred AHP rehabilitation.

To support AHP’s to access this educational opportunity, Alzheimer Scotland offers a scholarship which can cover approximately half the module fee.  This scholarship is again available to applicants commencing study in September 2019.  If you are interested in finding out how to apply for the MSc module, or information concerning the scholarship available from Alzheimer Scotland, please contact Fiona Maclean (fmaclean@qmu.ac.uk).

To find out more about how this module has supported AHP’s to re-consider and explore their practice, we have invited former students to contribute blogs in the coming weeks.

Next steps

As part of our own drive for improvement and enhancement, we are currently undertaking a review of our module, to refresh existing content and to ensure we continue to meet the ongoing educational needs of AHPs.  To help inform this review we would like to ask you some questions which we hope you can respond to, either by emailing Fiona Maclean (fmaclean@qmu.ac.uk) or Elaine Hunter (ehunter@alzscot.org), or by leaving a comment on this blog.

Questions

  1. In relation to developing and supporting the expertise of AHP’s in working with people living with dementia, their families and carers, what are the areas of practice and/or concern(s) you feel would be important for us to address as part of teaching content?
  2. What are the types of learning opportunities you would like to access that could support your developing expertise when working with people living with dementia, their families and carers (e.g. online content, campus-based learning, alternative CPD opportunities such as workshops on site)?

Contributors:

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Dr Fiona Maclean @MacleanFiona

I am an occupational therapist and I currently lead and teach on the MSc (Post Reg.) occupational therapy at Queen Margaret University.  I am also an associate member of the Centre for Person-centred Practice Research (CPcPR), which aims to be a world leading centre for research and development in person-centred practice with a focus on innovative new knowledge in nursing and healthcare.

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Elaine Hunter @elaineahpmh

National Allied Health Professions Consultant, Public Policy, Alzheimer Scotland

 

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Occupational Therapy Online Surgeries – a Test of Change

“Never be afraid to try something new”

Why?

“The public and people living with dementia are looking for information to help them stay well at home and build their resilience.  They also want to understand how Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) can help them and how they can access their services, levels of each of which are currently inconsistent.” (Connecting People, Connecting Support, 2017)

Connecting People, Connecting Support (Alzheimer Scotland, 2017) outlines a key ambition around Enhanced Access to the expertise of the AHPs for people living with dementia and their supporters.  Tests of change and the use of relevant technology are highlighted as two examples of how to enable this.

What?

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We have just started to test the method of Online Surgeries as an option for Enhanced Access to AHP expertise for people living with dementia.  The Surgeries are held using the NHS Attend Anywhere platform, which enables video call access.  People require internet access, Google Chrome browser, a laptop, smartphone or tablet (there is the option to check that this all works before linking in to the Surgery).    We were relieved to find that this is straightforward to use and further information can be found here:

https://sctt.org.uk/programmes/video-enabled-health-and-care/attendanywhere/

Colleagues within Alzheimer Scotland were already trying Online Surgeries and it was useful to hear about their experiences.  We arranged for hour-long surgeries to take place once a month, starting with Occupational Therapy hosting.

How?

We have considered how to raise awareness of the Online Surgeries and realise the importance of clarity around the purpose.  The Surgery is not a specific Occupational Therapy Service but a way for people living with dementia to easily access expertise and signposting.  Methods of promotion include the Alzheimer Scotland website:

“If you are interested in finding out more about using your strengths and abilities to enhance your daily living or if you want more information around how to adapt to your everyday environment then all you need to do is log in to the [Occupational Therapy] surgery”

https://www.alzscot.org/onlinesupport/4455_occupational_therapist_-_online_surgery

We use twitter to promote details of the Surgery and also link to the tweets related to Occupational Therapy, which are shared via the @AHPDementia Twitter account.

Further info about the AHP twitter project can be found here:

https://letstalkaboutdementia.wordpress.com/2019/01/10/a-tweet-a-day-from-ahpdementia-making-the-invisible-visible/

Examples of tweets we quote and link in the Surgery include:

Tweet 1:

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Consider the brightness of the bulbs within the home, small changes can support someone with #dementia to see memory prompts and instructions aiding independence #withOTuCAN

Are you living with #dementia? Would you like to talk more about how small changes in the home can aid independence? Join me for an Occupational Therapy online surgery……..

Tweet 2:

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Occupational Therapists CAN support a person with #dementia to improve their function through compensatory techniques.  This can promote sustained engagement in personally meaningful tasks #withOTuCAN

Are you living with #dementia? Would you like to talk more about ways to help engagement in meaningful activities? Join me for an Occupational Therapy online surgery…….

Next Steps:

It is still early days with this improvement project but there has already been a wealth of learning captured during the initial PDSA (Plan-Do-Study-Act) cycles.  We have identified further change ideas, which will be implemented moving forward with the Online Surgeries and we will share progress. There has been much support around what is being tried with the Occupational Therapy Online Surgeries and we are keen to continue to engage with people around any experiences and ideas.

The next Occupational Therapy Online Surgery is scheduled for Thursday 02 May at 2pm.  Please tell people about this and look out for further promotion.

‘Thank you’ to everyone involved in progressing this test of change so far.

If you have any comments, questions or would like to know more, please contact:

Alison McKean, AHP Post Diagnostic Lead, Alzheimer Scotland

Email: amckean@alzscot.org      Twitter: @AliAHPDem

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National AHP Dementia Webex Series

The Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) in Dementia webex series was launched in December 2018.  It had been identified that the AHPs would like the opportunity to hear more from their AHP colleagues about areas of good practice and quality improvement in dementia.  It was agreed to trial the use of webex in order to make this as accessible as possible.  We also wanted to support the delivery of Connecting People, Connecting Support (Alzheimer Scotland, 2017) Ambition 3: AHP workforce skilled in dementia care where an action for change included:

“The Alzheimer Scotland AHP dementia forum will work collaboratively to ensure a national approach to…..sharing best practice…..(2017:42)

Wendy Chambers @wendyAHPDem facilitates the bi-monthly webex on behalf of the AHP Dementia Forum and the presentation in February 2019 was on the topic:

Balmore Falls Reduction Project

An improvement project on Balmore Ward which focussed on reducing falls and the impact of falling for people living with dementia.

New furniture                                                            Garden Seating

The Webex was hosted by:

Angela Watson, Physiotherapy Team Lead, Leverndale Hospital, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde

The link to the presentation can be found bit.ly/2VxbBYt

Following the webex, the participants are asked to complete a short evaluation with the following 3 questions, which will guide future webex sessions:

– Something you liked about the Webex?

– Something that would have made the Webex even better?                                                     

Future topics?

Over 100 AHPs registered for the webex, linking in across Scotland and across the AHP groups.  Participants fed back that they benefitted from a clear explanation of how the falls issues were addressed using PDSA cycles and the small tests of change and it was great to hear about the positive impact.  It was also highlighted that it enabled people to think about how to apply the learning to their own settings.

We will continue to Blog about the AHP Dementia Webex and will share information from these – look out for this throughout 2019.

A big Thank You to Angela and Wendy!

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National AHP Dementia Webex Series Top Tips for Working with Stress & Distress

The Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) in Dementia webex series was launched in December 2018.  It had been identified that the AHPs would like the opportunity to hear more from their AHP colleagues about areas of good practice and quality improvement in dementia.  It was agreed to trial the use of webex in order to make this as accessible as possible. We also wanted to support the delivery of Connecting People, Connecting Support (Alzheimer Scotland, 2017) Ambition 3: AHP workforce skilled in dementia care where an action for change included the

“The Alzheimer Scotland AHP dementia forum will work collaboratively to ensure a national approach to …sharing best practice….” (2017:42)

Wendy Chambers, @wendyAHPDem, facilitates the bi-monthly webex on behalf of the Alzheimer Scotland AHP Dementia Forum and the first presentation in December 2018 was on the topic  Top Tips for Working with Stress & Distress

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The WEBES was hosted by:                                                                                                             

Helen Moores Poole, Speech & Language Therapist   @poole_moores

Jilly Polson, Occupational Therapist , IDEAS Team (Interventions in Dementia, Education, Assessment & Support) NHS Dumfries & Galloway

The link to the presentation can be found here.

Following the webex, the participants are asked to complete a short evaluation with the following 3 questions, which will guide future webex sessions:

  • Something you liked about the Webex?
  • Something that would have made the Webex even better? 

Future topics?

The initial webex was a great success with a wide range of AHPs linking in across Scotland.  Participants enjoyed hearing about the CEASE approach and planned to share the learning within their own areas.

We will continue to Blog about the AHP Dementia Webex and will share information from these – look out for this throughout 2019.

A big Thank You to Wendy, Helen and Jilly for holding the first AHP Dementia webex!

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Weekday Wow Factor – Communities at the heart of dementia care

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This week’s blog shares a film of a weekly dance group and the benefits of free style dance for all.  Sit back and enjoy the 6 minute film and tell us what you think.

All the video footage is credited to Weekday Wow Factor, Social Enterprise, Not for Profit organisation

Contributor

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Pasna is a Public Health Occupational Therapist and Director of Weekday Wow Factor, a start up third sector organisation based in Glasgow. @Pasna

Pasna works in partnership with private leisure providers and public and third sector organisations as well as participants and Carers to create Weekday Wow Factor, accessible opportunities for older adults of all ages.  For example, Daytime Discos, Rural walks, Go Karting, Zip Sliding, Ten Pin Bowling and Adventure Golf as well as Murder, Mystery lunch.  To enhance physical, mental and social health. Reduce loneliness and health inequalities. Applying Occupational Therapy and Social Enterprise Principles.

Contact details: weekdaywowfactor@gmail.com

07717732542