Social Media Labs: Raising the AHP Profile

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Someone once said that the best thing about social media is the people you meet.  I have connected with some amazing and inspirational people through social media who, in a slightly weird way, I might never meet in person.  My experience of using social media in my professional practice has always been positive with the benefits far outweighing any negatives.  That’s why I volunteered to be D&G’s regional social media champion for the Allied Health Professions (AHPs).  This opportunity arose through the national AHP social media site AHPScot:  There are two main AHP national presences on social media and they are @AHPScot and @AHPdementia.  The aim of both is to encourage AHP staff and non AHPs to blog and tweet about the significant role AHPs have in supporting the people of Scotland in their health and wellbeing.  Social media is a fantastic resource to showcase areas of innovative pieces of work and share examples of good practice.  The blogs reach far and wide with international readership as well as local interactions.  I genuinely feel that I am a much more effective practitioner given this wider and broader perspective of clinical effectiveness and person-centred care gained from using social media as a method for enhancing evidence based practice.

The first thing to understand was around how many AHPs locally were using social media in their professional practice.  A SurveyMonkey was sent out to 293 people on the Dumfries & Galloway AHP email distribution list and 120 people responded with the following results:

blog graph 1blog graph 2blog graph 3blog graph 4

This information was shared at the local AHP leads and Heads of Service meeting and the idea of local social media ‘labs’ was created as an improvement project that was developed further through Scottish Improvement Skills (SIS) run by D&G Patient Safety and Improvement team.  The social media labs are a means for local AHPs to explore and experiment with social media in relation to identified themes around motives, risks and barriers.  AHPs are supported to do this in a safe and effective way that is congruent with local organisation social media policy and HCPC professional guidelines:

What did we do Who with How they feel What they learn and gain What will they do differently What difference this makes
Creation of social media labs to explore safe and effective use in professional practice AHPs working in Dumfries and Galloway Intrigued about how I can use this


Curious as to how others use social media in health & social care



How to set up a twitter account


The importance of using social media in promoting AHPs



Develop twitter as part of my job


Use twitter as part of my role


Start tweeting!


I will share my learning about twitter and AHPScot blog with my team.


What did we do Who with How they feel What they learn and gain What will they do differently What difference this makes
Motivated.  Looking forward to setting up professional social media


Excited to get more involved


It is good that AHPs are coming together like this to promote our professions

How to sign up for AHPScot blogs


The appropriate way to use social media


How to use social media in way that provides a national impact


How useful AHPScot is for information and sharing

Regularly read AHPScot blogs


Make a professional twitter profile


Remember to use #AHPDG


Separate my personal social media from my professional use of social media

I can support my colleagues who still lack confidence around social media

Adapted from @matter_of_focus

As the learning from the social media labs transitions through the AHP workforce in Dumfries & Galloway from early adopters (12%) to early majority, we hope to capture  impact and outcomes  by encouraging people to use our local hashtag #AHPDG on twitter and through AHPs, not only reading blogs from other AHPs, but writing their own professional blogs in sharing their experiences too.

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The conclusion to this blog is written by Joan Pollard, Associate AHP Director, who gives her own thoughts around the introduction of the social media labs:

Thank you to Laura Lennox for your inspiring words and for your steady and reassuring support.  As the Associate Director of AHP here in #AHPDG I would describe myself as a tentative beginner and having had occasion to write a professional blog before Laura’s input there was only one word * terrifying*. Now following the social media labs it is inspiring to see how many of our local AHPs are now committing themselves to reading and writing blogs and with the introduction of our #AHPDG  hashtag we now have a building and visible presence on the web.

As confidence has built we have also moved to using social media to support recruitment with positive effect this providing opportunity to meet more amazing and inspiring people in person and on our doorstep. Keep up this amazing work. @JoanPollard1

For further information:  @lauralennox6

15th aug blog pic 7@AHPScot  @AHPdementia @NESnmahp @NES_hcsw  @dg_improvers  @slt_dg   

This blog was also posted at @AHPScot on the 22nd July


The day in the life of an occupational therapy intern

AHP Blog - day in the life of an intern

Hi, I’m Danielle and I am the occupational therapy summer intern for the policy team in Alzheimer Scotland. I attend Queen Margaret University and I have just completed the 1st year of the MSc (pre-reg) in occupational therapy. My background is in third sector homeless, addiction and blood borne virus services in Ireland. The most rewarding and enjoyable part of my job was supporting the person to engage in occupations or everyday activities that they enjoyed. This is what inspired me to pursue a career in occupational therapy.

My main base is the Alzheimer Scotland Edinburgh office, but I spend every Tuesday in Glasgow working with the Scottish Dementia Working Group (SDWG). When I arrive at work, I check my diary, answer any emails and consult my do list for that day. I also consult my action plan to ensure I am on target with all my projects that have been agreed for the 10 weeks at Alzheimer Scotland. I meet my managers throughout the week to discuss the progress of the projects and to bounce ideas and discuss my reflections with them.

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This summer I will be continuing the great work of Ciara and Sarah (Interns 2018) on the Instagram account.  Watch this space and follow ahpdementia for updates!  I will be doing a ‘Did you know’ series to highlight the unique role of AHPS with people living with dementia. You can test your knowledge!

I will also be working to further develop the ‘Roots to Occupation’ publication into an intervention tool that can be used by people living with dementia. See the ‘Roots to Occupation’ project here

Alongside the SDWG, I will be working with them in their iPad class and will also be exploring creative ways to share their work such as the “life of a SDWG campaigner”.

I am also looking forward to learning more about the benefit of dementia dogs to the lives of people with dementia. I will be spending time with Carla in the dementia dog project and I will be completing a follow up blog post all about this great initiative.

Finally, I will be finalising the ‘Occupations Matters to Me’ eBook. This is a great project where previous interns have worked with 7 members of the SDWG to share photographs of occupations that are meaningful to them. This project aims to challenge stigma and change the image of dementia through photographs. I have the absolute pleasure to complete this project and develop a communication and dissemination plan for the whole project.

Overall, I am really looking forward to learning more about dementia and being part of a team that actively works to achieve the best outcomes for people who live with dementia.


Danielle Timmons


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Let’s talk about dementia differently as AHPs

In Dumfries and Galloway (D&G) we embarked on how we, as a team of Allied Health Professionals who are interested in Dementia could promote what CAN help people live well ….

The first ask within Connecting People, Connecting Support is about enhancing access, how we could actively improve access to AHPs.  We were curious, could we take the message from the AHP postcards and personalise them to D&G with clinicians who know the local area and people and then actively share them with our local communities.

What we did:

We asked clinicians to be involved and we were pleasantly surprised to have willing volunteers from each profession, who honestly, without any coercion were willing to put their voice and face to the videos.  Over the weeks prior to Dementia week in Scotland we took short videos on a phone, from Dumfries to Newton Stewart.  Each one took 10 to 30 minutes to do, taking two or more “takes” to get a video the clinician was happy with.  The clips were all less than 1 minute in length.  We used the same backdrop of the AHP Connecting People poster to have a consistency in the presentation.


Our media team downloaded the finished videos and uploaded them onto the Board Facebook and Twitter accounts.  One was posted or tweeted for each day of Dementia Awareness week June 3-9 2019 in Scotland.

For Dementia Awareness week we also set up a stall in the foyer of our acute hospital, Dumfries & Galloway Royal Infirmary with banners and had the AHP specific cards available.

We were keen to contrast the traditional stall approach using the AHP postcards and the short videos using the same cards on social media (Facebook and Twitter)

Day 1: Isabella spoke about how Physiotherapy CAN …


Day 2: Claire talked about how Occupational Therapy CAN …


Day 3: Terri chatted about how Speech and Language Therapy CAN …


Day 4: Jennifer talks about what Dietetics CAN …


Day 5: Amanda spoke about how Podiatry CAN …


The impact: The stall had hundreds, if not thousands walk past it each day, but we have no specific measure of engagement for this.  The stall was monitored and the AHP postcards were topped up daily, it was then taken down on the Friday.


Over the course of the week, the pickup of cards from the unhosted stall was:

In contrast, the total reach of the 5 videos during the week via Facebook @NHSDG was 19,079

The number of unique people who engaged in certain ways with the video post on Facebook  during the week , for example by commenting on, liking, sharing, or clicking upon was:

In comparing the stall to the social media awareness raising this equates to at least 98% more engagement.  At least, as this does not include the Twitter activity and subsequent sharing after the initial week.

We are thrilled

If one more person, family member or carer can access an AHP to help support them on their dementia journey that’s what we are here for. The AHP postcards are important prompts but how can we actively engage with our communities and open access to what we, as AHPs can offer?  One of our answers was engaging differently, using technology and spreading the word – one click or post at a time…. We think it worked and the numbers above would support this. Going forward we are still engaging with this through distributing the video links onto local health and social care partnerships and health promotion sites and encouraging the use of static cards within GP surgeries region wide

Being brave – doing things differently…


Helen Fletcher & Wendy Chambers

AHPs promoting Dementia in Dumfries & Galloway HSCP

@ HelenSALTAHP @wendyAHPDem

  • With heartfelt thanks to Amanda, Claire, Isabella, Jennifer and Terri

Start the conversation @AHPScot @AHPdementia

Studying a rights-based practice module for Allied Health Professionals (AHP) working with people living with dementia: a student perspective from Spain

My name is Paula Rodriguez and I am a former full-time student of the MSc (Post Reg.) Occupational Therapy programme at Queen Margaret University (QMU), Edinburgh.  I completed my undergraduate occupational therapy degree in Spain, where I subsequently worked as an occupational therapist for one year.  I then moved to Scotland to study my MSc degree at QMU.

As part of the MSc degree I undertook at QMU, I chose to undertake the module *‘Developing Rights-Based Practice for Allied Health Professionals (AHP) Working with People with Dementia, their Families and Carers’. This module is delivered by the Division of Occupational Therapy & Arts Therapies at QMU, in partnership with Alzheimer Scotland, and is available to all AHP’s.  The module is designed to support AHPs to develop a depth of understanding connected to what rights-based practice is, the ways this can be implemented in practice and how it can influence AHPs therapeutic interventions when working with people living with dementia as well as their families and carers. Moreover, it helped me to understand how to translate rights-based theory and principles into practice.

In choosing to study this module I was conscious that I had not considered rights-based practice in dementia prior to undertaking my post-graduate degree.  A rights-based perspective to dementia was not something I had studied or considered as part of my 4-year bachelor undergraduate degree, nor during my first year of practice as an occupational therapist in Spain.  My knowledge and understanding of the occupational therapy contribution to working with people living with dementia was centred mainly on cognitive maintenance sessions.  In addition, I noticed there had been far less consideration of the families and carers of people living with dementia as part of education and practice in Spain.

Studying the AHP rights-based practice module immediately provided an excellent opportunity to expand my knowledge and awareness about dementia and to learn how and what rights-based practice could look like.  Perhaps just as importantly, the opportunity to undertake this module allowed me to grow a deeper appreciation of person-centred practice to enable people living with dementia to sustain their identity.  This can be achieved through the provision and understanding of the importance of good post-diagnostic support, and by enhancing my own knowledge of the types of dementia, how this can influence people in unique and diverse ways, supporting quality care throughout.  Key to this is that with the right support people living with dementia can make decisions about their care, and how best they can be supported to remain part of their communities for longer, to remain as independent as possible.  In addition, as an occupational therapist, the module offered flexibility to allow me to consider how occupations (or activities) identified by the person as being of importance to them, can impact and influence the health of a person living with dementia; their physical, mental and social wellbeing.

The contrast in perspectives from the policy landscape in Scotland informing a rights-based AHP approach to working with people living with dementia, in comparison to Spain, were significant.  I experienced surprise when, as a class, we were taught by members of the Scottish Dementia Working Group (SDWG), a group of people who all live with a diagnosis of dementia.  In Spain, my wider impression had been that once a person receives a diagnosis of dementia, it is far more likely they will be expected to put their lives on hold.  In contrast, the teaching contribution from the SDWG provided a clear insight in to the ways through which people living with dementia can continue to carry on with their lives, informed and supported by a rights-based approach to practice.

In moving from Spain to study in Scotland, specifically connected to the AHP rights-based module, I also enjoyed the opportunity to learn, understand and gain insight in to the function of post diagnostic support, the role of link workers and how Scottish National Dementia Strategy, informing the publication of ‘Connecting People, Connecting Support Transforming the allied health professionals’ contribution to supporting people living with dementia in Scotland, 2017-2020’ ( , is re-shaping the contribution of occupational therapy when working with people living with dementia, their families and carers, as well as AHP’s more widely.  It has reminded me not to forget the person living with dementia, rather than to focus on the disease itself, and to understand and learn how to work with people living with dementia more effectively.

I feel very grateful that I have had the opportunity to undertake the module “Developing Rights-Based Practice for AHPs Working with People with Dementia, their Families and Carers” because it has completely changed my view of dementia. I now feel that I have a deep understanding of what dementia is, of how people with dementia, their families and carers continue to live positive lives in the best way possible, and the importance of collaboration to create a better environment so people living with dementia, their families and carers can sustain a better quality of life.  From a personal perspective, I feel this module has made me a better occupational therapist.


  1. What might be some of the surprises you experience in returning to study from practice?
  2. What are the ways in which policy, influencing AHP practice, can differ across the UK and Europe?

*To find out more about the MSc module co-delivered by Alzheimer Scotland and Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, ‘Developing rights-based practice for Allied Health Professionals (AHP) working with people living with dementia, their families and carers’, refer to an earlier blog post, dated 18th April 2019, here:



Paula Rodriguez

Paula Rodriguez is a former student of the MSc (Post Reg) occupational therapy programme at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.

My journey to becoming a Dementia Champion

Hello this is my first ever blog but I was interested to share with you my experience of being a dementia champion as an Allied Health Professional.  Let me set the scene, I am a Band 6 Occupational Therapist with over 23 years of practice, predominantly working with older people in a number of settings. For the first 3 years of practice I worked with people who were being assessed or had been assessed as having a diagnosis of dementia.  For the last 5 years, within “Intermediate Care” those coming into our Units have increasingly had a diagnosis of dementia and many were in the latter stages of their journey.  I also achieved my MSc in Gerontology in 2004.

So why did I feel it was necessary to complete the Scottish National Dementia Champion course in 2018? The key aim of the Scottish National Dementia Champion course is to:

“Enable the Dementia Champions to support and lead change in the workplace so they can improve the experience, care, treatment and outcomes for people with dementia, their families and carers”

Even though I had an MSc in a relevant field as well as years of clinical experience, I did not feel that my knowledge, skills and experience, of working with people living were dementia, were being used to their full potential.  I was inspired and motivated to be an “Change Agent”.  I wanted to put my experience and ideas into practice and the only way I saw available to me was by completing the course.  Although I work in the community I felt that the ethos of the Dementia Champion programme could be of benefit to my client group, after all, the majority of the people we see have recently had a period of acute care.

When applying for the course I had excellent support from my team lead and professional Occupational Therapy lead, I therefore  found myself enrolled in Cohort 9 of the programme.  The programme consisted of 5 taught days at University West of Scotland (UWS) with staff from Alzheimer Scotland and from the Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice lecturing staff based at University of West of Scotland (UWS).

The taught sessions, held at various UWS campuses, included practical sessions, seminars, short lectures and group discussions.  They provided a fantastic opportunity to share experiences, learn new information and approaches on a number of areas including working with stressed and distressed behaviour, working in partnership with families/carers and palliative care.

Personally, the main privilege of the course was getting to meet individuals and their families/carers who were successfully living with their dementia and to hear how they wished services could be shaped, in the future, as well as hearing their positive and challenging experiences of health and social care input.

To successfully complete the course, 3 assignments also needed to be completed.  The first assignment involved writing a reflective account of my thoughts and feelings about people living with dementia in the community rather than in a clinical setting.  To facilitate this I spent the  afternoon at a local dementia cafe,  where the person with dementia and their carer could meet friends, have a cup of coffee and a chat.   There were also informal activities in which everyone could take part if they wished.  The local primary school also provided entertainment which included a mixture of song and dance.

The second and third assignment involved the completion of a care area evaluation, in this case  the Intermediate Care Unit, in which I am based, was reviewed.  An appreciative inquiry approach helped to identify what areas were working well and where improvements could be made. Following this, a plan of action, to help implement the highlighted changes, was developed.

We had a great celebration and graduation this year and I love knowing I am part of a movement  of change in Scotland with over 900 dementia champions.


Having successfully completed the course, I hoped it would open doors for me to pursue my wish to educate others on how best to work with those living with dementia, their families/carers and help plan and shape future policies and services.  Has it worked? Well I am currently employed as an AHP project lead, on a short term contract, by Alzheimer Scotland. My remit is to develop a resource for AHP’s relating to the Connecting People, Connecting Support publication.  I believe that not only my knowledge and experience but being a Dementia Champion helped me secure the post.  It’s a toe in the door … I hope to push the door further open.



Fiona Cowan, Band 6 Occupational Therapist and Dementia Champion, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

I am currently based within a 15 bedded Intermediate Care (IC) Unit in the South Glasgow.  As part of the IC team I am responsible for the assessment, treatment and discharge planning, whether this be to their own home or new accommodation, for all of those who are admitted to the Unit.  @Fiona_OTAHP