How CAN a physiotherapist help you to live with dementia? #DementiaAwareness

Alzheimer Scotland has been working with our partners at the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and are proud to launch our new post card during dementia awareness week in Scotland.

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The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy is also launching its exciting new campaign “Love activity, Hate exercise?” which promotes doing more of what you love with physiotherapy, and aims to increase everyone’s physical activity while having fun! The campaign launches to the public in July so look out for events going on near you promoting this!

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I love dancing and going for walks but I hate going to the gym– what do you enjoy doing?

We will share the work of #AHPConnectingPeople #withphysioyoucan and #loveactivity over the coming months on twitter – keep an eye out for updates and good practice stories.

Physiotherapists will work with you to improve health and wellbeing, and to maintain independence in people with dementia, through physical interventions and activities

Physiotherapists CAN:

  • Enable you to be physically active and continue to do the things you enjoy. Being active supports good physical and mental health.
  • Work with you, your family and your friends to maintain your independence. Encourage you to continue to do things for yourself.
  • Help you stay mobile for longer and reduce your risk of falling. This can include moving and safe handling advice for family, friends and carers.
  • Inspire you to live well with dementia – Help you to recover from illness and injury

Your GP or consultant can arrange for a referral to a physiotherapist who may see you in your local hospital or at home depending on your needs.  In some areas you may be able to self refer to a physiotherapist too.

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Contributor

Claire Craig  – Specialist Physiotherapist – Inverclyde

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Use of twitter to connect to people living with dementia and their families #DementiaAwareness @AHPDementia

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In January 2018, Six Occupational Therapists took on the challenge to use twitter to increase knowledge and awareness and share our experience as Occupational Therapists working with people with dementia and their families/carers. We were supporting and sharing the key messages and themes from Alzheimer’s Scotland publication – Connecting People, Connecting Support by providing very practical hints, tips and ideas from our experience as working as Occupational Therapists with people living with dementia and their family/carer.

A new twitter account was set up so all the therapists involved were tweeting from this account rather than their own professional or personal accounts.   We each tweeted on a particular day of the week and we each had a key element of the AHP approach that we were responsible for tweeting about.

Alongside our tweets, we all had an image that we tweeted each week so the tweet was reinforced by the image.   In a feedback session, it was interesting to note that although we all chose an image early in the project, the images related in some way to our own personalities and interests which we found amusing.

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Over the 5 months there have been challenges for us to overcome including:

  • Confidence in using a new method and style of communication including concise messages under 240 characters, whilst using @ and # symbols.
  • Lack of suitable links that we could share to provide further information on the topic and messages we were tweeting about.
  • Fear that it wouldn’t work, that you weren’t sharing relevant information or letting the group down
  • Fear of ‘trolls’ and negative responses, although we have had great feedback from our followers which has increased our confidence. Further to this, understanding that people’s experiences of dementia and the support that they have received, is all different.
  • The distance, the Occupational Therapists were based across Scotland
  • Initially getting support from our boards and ensuring that we adhered to strict social media governance

The project has been supported and achieved by:

  • The clear vision and project plan from the outset
  • Being equal partners and contributors to the project from the outset
  • Teamwork, a supportive group that has been willing to learn from each other, and give practical advice
  • Tweeters engaging with the discussion, increasing the value and depth of the tweets
  • Statistical analysis which has enabled us to understand what followers have liked and engaged with, which has directed our future tweets
  • Keeping focused by using the themes from the AHP approach in Connecting People, Connecting Support which enabled planning and structure
  • Keeping it real, using experience as practicing Occupational Therapist. Sharing authentic knowledge and understanding of the situations that people living with dementia and their families face
  • Having weekly virtual huddles via telephone to offer advice and support to each other
  • Starting small and adding elements as the project progressed. Started with one tweet, and then added more. We also built up who we tagged in the tweets with confidence
  • Implementing policy into practice
  • We have had requests from others to come and share what we have done

It has been a great learning and CPD experience, so much so that we have all agreed to keep tweeting……….

Some of our top Tweets

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What’s next for @AHPDementia?

  • By 1st June we have 927 followers, and it’s still growing- we are aiming for 1000 followers & more…..
  • Get other AHP’s involved in @AHPDementia to share their knowledge and experience
  • Encourage more Occupational Therapists to join Twitter as a method to support people living with different diagnoses
  • Share our learning and experience using Twitter at the Alzheimer’s Scotland 2018 Conference , through blogs and an article in OT news
  • Need to review and learn from the data we gathered, daily, weekly and monthly
  • Develop governance regarding expanding the project to other AHPs
  • Keep tweeting

It has been a fantastic project to be part of and we feel we are really making a difference. It has also been a great professional development opportunity as we have all learnt so much personally and professionally from being involved in the twitter account.

Please join us at @AHPDementia and tell us what you think?

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Contributors: Lynn Dorman, Julie Brown and Carrie Milligan

Dietitians CAN help with prevention #DementiaAwareness

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Not only is this week Dementia awareness week in Scotland, it is also Dietitians week across the United Kingdom.   Our focus this year is how Dietitians can help with prevention.  So I thought this would be a good opportunity to share with you what Dietitians are doing to make sure no-one faces dementia alone.

There is a lot of information on television, on social media and in newspapers about what we should and shouldn’t eat for good health.  At times this includes information on specific foods and dementia.  Often it can be difficult to know what to believe.  Dietitians work in local communities, in hospitals, with government bodies and in the food and health industry.  We aim to make sure that people are given the correct information about diet and nutrition, in a way that is easy to understand.  Often this is to treat or help reduce symptoms from health conditions that can affect how you feel.  By doing this we hope to make it easier to find information you can trust.

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How can we help how you feel?

What you eat and drink can play a part in both preventing and managing mental ill health. Good nutrition and hydration can also help aid recovery.

The brain like any other organ in the body needs nutrients to work properly.  You need to eat well and drink enough fluids for it to work as it should.  We know that if you don’t get all the nutrients your brain needs this can increase difficulties with processing information and your memory.  It can also affect how you feel, increase feelings of tiredness and lack of energy and contribute to low mood.  Dietitians can help by providing information on how to get the right balance of nutrients you need from what you eat and drink.  If you have dementia this can be more challenging to achieve.  Small changes such preparing a jug of water or juice in a clear container can help to remind you to drink more.  Using ready prepared foods including frozen, tinned or chilled foods can make preparing meals easier.  In Lanarkshire, where I work, Dietitians have produced a hints and tips leaflet on nutrition and dementia to share this information.  The leaflet is part of a wider range of hints and tips leaflets produced by allied health professionals for people with dementia.  As part of Connecting People, Connecting Support we are looking at the best way to share this information with people across Scotland.

How can we help enable you to manage your own health?

Support from a dietitian can help you to manage symptoms from a health condition, reduce risks of further illness and prevent admission to hospital.

You may have a health issue which is not related to your dementia but effects how you feel.  Examples of this could be after having an operation where you need help to heal wounds or broken bones.  Maybe you need advice to help you manage conditions such as diabetes, anaemia or constipation. Depending on what the issue is you may need to speak to a dietitian directly who will carry out an individual assessment and give advice for your specific needs.  You should discuss whether a referral would be beneficial with your health care professional or GP practice.  However if it is something more straightforward you may need some information to help you do this without being seen.  The British Dietetic Association is the professional body of dietitians in the United Kingdom.  Their website has a range of useful leaflets on a range of topics called Food Factsheets.  They can be accessed free of charge at:  https://www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/home

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How can we help share our knowledge?

Good nutrition and hydration is essential for good health.  Dietitians help the public at large to stay healthy which helps prevent illness and diet related conditions such as undernutrition and obesity.

Dietitians are involved in national and local groups looking at policies, guidelines and standards, advising on how nutrition can be used to improve health and wellbeing for everyone.

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How can we help you get the most out of life?

For people who have a health condition such as dementia, support from a dietitian can provide symptom relief, prevent complications and help you to maintain enjoyment from what you eat and drink.

Dietitians are working to make links with the people who provide post diagnosis support to ensure they are able to identify where you may benefit from nutrition advice.  In turn they will then be able to link you to the information available in your area or point you in the right direction if you need more support or referral to a dietitian.

Work is also underway to improve access to information that can help people who care for someone with dementia.  Previously I worked alongside NDR-UK and Alzheimer Scotland to produce the leaflet ‘Eating Well with Dementia – A Carers Guide’ .  http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0044/00449379.pdf It is hoped that this will start to address some of the common questions or issues that might arise for someone with dementia who may need a bit more support to eat well.

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However we are aware that it is not just the person with dementia that may need help.  My colleague Lynne Stevenson, Dietitian has also been involved in producing resources with Carers UK to give advice on nutritional wellbeing for carers and you can read more about this in Lynn’s blog, “Raising Awareness & Importance to Eating Well When Living with Dementia” here  https://letstalkaboutdementia.wordpress.com/2018/03/16/raising-awareness-importance-to-eating-well-when-living-with-dementia/

Do we help in any other way?

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As dietitians we see people not just the condition.  We know that there may be other issues that can impact on your health and well being such as smoking, activity, alcohol and work.  No two people are the same, so this advice will change depending on what you need.  Therefore we also act as a point of contact to share information that may be useful to you about your health. It may be that you wish to give up smoking and we can direct you to your local stop smoking services.  You might want to improve your balance or be more active and we can give information on local leisure services you can access to work on this.  Dietitians also work closely with other members of the health care team and if needed can request that a referral is made.  An example of this would be if someone is experiencing swallowing or communication difficulties.  In this case we would recommend that a referral is made to the Speech and Language Therapist who has the expertise to help you with these issues.

The British Dietetic Association and Alzheimer Scotland have recently produced a postcard to help share some of the ways dietitians can help you.

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Contributor

Gillian McMillan

Specialist Dietitian – Mental Health, NHS Lanarkshire

#DementiaAwareness week in Scotland: 4-10th June Allied health professionals help to raise awareness of dementia across Scotland

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90,000 people in Scotland are living with dementia

A dementia diagnosis changes the lives of not only a person with dementia, but also their family and friends.  Dementia Awareness Week 2018 focuses on making sure nobody faces dementia alone. It’s vital that people living with dementia feel recognised, valued and supported in their local communities.  People can live well with dementia with the right information, care and support.

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Allied health professionals (AHP) will be spreading the word about dementia, letting people know about dementia, sharing who we are & how we CAN help and this  week’s blog is sharing a few ways you can connect with us.

1. A blog a day at alzscot.org/talking_dementia

During the week a number of different health care professionals will be sharing their work in dementia so look out for the blogs and be ready with any questions you would like to ask and we will do our best to answer.

  • Monday 4th June – Ask a dietitian by Gillian
  • Tuesday 5th June – Ask an occupational therapist by Lynn
  • Wednesday 6th June – Ask a physiotherapist by Claire
  • Thursday 7th June – Ask a podiatrist by Karen
  • Friday 8th June – Ask a speech and language therapist
  • Saturday 9th June – Ask a nurse by Julie
  • Sunday 10th June – Ask a nurse by Susan

2. A tweet a day @AHPDementia

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We will continue to share our work daily at @AHPDementia where Allied Health Professionals in Scotland are raising awareness about dementia & how they CAN help, sharing practical hints & tips. RT or comment

3. #AHPConnectingPeople A WebEx sharing the AHP contribution to post diagnostic support

We are hosting a WEBEX by @FocusOnDementia on Tuesday the 5th June from 2pm-3pm where we will be having a “blether” about how Allied Health Professionals CAN contribute to dementia post diagnostic support? Who should attend?  Anyone with an interest in how AHPs can contribute to dementia care.  

How to book  https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/webex-ahp-contribution-to-dementia-post-diagnostic-support-tickets-45645435727?platform=hootsuite then the login details for the WebEx will be issued by email.

4. Hosting an AHP Blether at @Alzscot annual conference

We will be at Alzheimer Scotland’s annual conference, Friday 8th June at the Edinburgh International conference centre with our Connecting People, Connecting Support AHP stand

Worried about falls, good footcare, eating well and keeping active? Perhaps you have questions about communication or looking for tips on making small changes to your home,  we have allied health professionals waiting to answer your questions including:

  • Art therapist
  • Dietitian
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Physiotherapist
  • Podiatrist
  • Speech and Language Therapist

Join us or just come over and have a blether about how we are working hard to integrate the policy of Connecting People, Connecting Support to local practice and how we are closing the gap between the AHP dementia policy aspirations and the lived experience.

Added to this work, there are many local events taking place & you can discover all the events taking places across the country during Dementia Awareness Week in 2018 at this link https://daw.alzscot.org/local-events

We look forward to all our blether’s about  #DementiaAwareness & the contribution of allied health professionals #AHPConnectingPeople

Dementia Dog – Transforming lives

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We all need a helping hand in our lives at times – those friends, family and carers who can give us the support we need to live well – but what if that was a helping paw instead?

Opportunity to apply for a dementia assistance dog

Dementia Dog are welcoming enquiries from people living throughout central Scotland, who are living with a diagnosis of dementia and are still living at home with a full-time carer with a good level of daily routine and independence.  Ideally the person would have recently received a diagnosis of dementia or else be in the early stages of dementia. The applicant doesn’t need to have previously owned a dog in order to apply and these dogs are provided completely free of charge with all support and training provided through the Dementia Dog project team.

Lenny and Hope – two very talented, hard-working and friendly Labradors – will soon be ready to place and are now looking for their forever homes!  They are looking for a home that would have a fenced garden and people who love dogs.

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Lenny                                                               Hope

How can dementia assistance dogs help?

As with all assistance dog work, it is important to match the right dog with the right person. We also work to match Lenny and Hope’s skills with the support required, ensuring a happy bond and a lasting partnership is established. Once this match has been identified, our team will then tailor each dog’s advanced skills to meet the individual needs of the people they will go on to be placed with.

The proof of the health benefits of pets and assistance dogs has been well evidenced – recognised as reducing anxiety and creating wellbeing. They have learned to carry out an array of vital tasks for people living with dementia, from retrieving medication to helping wake someone up and get dressed.  They can open and close doors, can prompt to alert and remind, and provide companionship. Both Lenny and Hope are trained to walk on a harnessed dual lead, encouraging exercise and getting people out in their community.

These very specialist assistance dogs have been making a difference to those living with dementia since 2012. We have seen how the dogs can hugely boost confidence and independence for the couple they are placed with, helping to reduce social isolation and providing the person living with dementia a renewed sense of purpose.

One couple talked about one of the pioneer dogs, Kaspa, who came into their lives after diagnosis – which was described as a ‘dark hole’. Glenys, wife and carer to her husband Ken says

“Kaspa has given our lives back. Ken is never alone now”

Project manager Fiona Corner says “It is wonderful to see the myriad of benefits that these dogs can have for the people we support who have received a dementia assistance dog.   We are now keen to hear from other families who would like to apply for one of these specially trained dogs.”

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What goes into making a dementia assistance dog so special?

Each assistance dog undergoes two years of dedicated training, learning skills to help reinforce routines at home, being a social connector out in the community and an emotional anchor for someone living with dementia and their carer. The dogs commence their training at just 8 weeks old, spending their first year of socialisation and early training at Dogs for Good’s charity base in Oxfordshire, before travelling up to the Dementia Dog team in Scotland to complete the final stages of their advanced training.

Their training is completed with the help of inmates at the project’s operational base at HMP Castle Huntly open prison near Dundee, enabling men in custody to develop employability skills and build a non-criminal identity. This helps to reduce risks of future re-offending, while also making a significant contribution back into society through the provision of trained dementia assistance dogs.

Over the next few years, thanks to funding from the Life Changes Trust, the Dementia Dog team will be placing a further five trained dementia assistance dogs.

Applying for a dementia assistance dog

If you are a person either recently diagnosed or early stages of dementia, living with your full-time carer in central Scotland area, have an enclosed garden and love dogs – you can register your interest.

Please contact the Dementia Dog Project team at bark@dementiadog.org to request an Enquiry Form.

Contributor

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Angi Inch

Dementia Advisor – East Dunbartonshire