Your Top 10 blogs of 2017

In this week’s Blog we are sharing YOUR all time Top 10 blog posts of 2017, with an invitation to let us know what you would like to read in 2018.  In no particular order, here are the your top ten

1. Dementia and Sensory Challenges : Dementia can be more than memory

by @agnes_houston


2. 5 things I learned in Japan by @thatjanbeattie

3. Our “Top Tips” for living well with dementia by members of @S_D_W_G

4. Care Homes by @dtbarron


5. Occupational Balance” what does it mean & why is it important? By @LRFlanniganOT

6. Dementia Awareness within Prisons by @hart_lorna

7. Connecting people, connecting support. Ask a speech & Language Therapist by @keir_jenny


8. Café Culture: Student Dietitians Learn from Experience at Alzheimer Scotland by @adrineahpmh

9. A Skilled AHP workforce : physio therapy placement supported by @hart_lorna

10. Allied Health Professionals Maximising Physical Wellbeing: What does a Speech and Language Therapist have to do with eating and drinking? By @AislingEganSLT

Tell us what you would like to read in 2018 and we would like to ask you:

  • What do you like about the blog posts?
  • What would make this blog even better in 2018?



Let’s talk about dementia – Thank You

Never in the history of mankind did not talking about something scary make it disappear

This weekly blog was founded in June 2014, starting after Scotland’s national dementia awareness week where the theme was “Let’s talk about dementia.  Our blog is hosted and supported by Alzheimer Scotland and led by the allied health professionals.

Let’s Talk about Dementia shares the work and practice of the allied health professionals in relation to dementia care. It offers advice for people living with dementia, their carers, partners and families – focussing on topics that range from diet and physical health to keeping engaged with your community or remaining at home for as long as you would like. This blog aims to also be a source of information for other health and social care professional colleagues.

Let’s Talk about Dementia aims to :

  • Cover a range of topics and offer practical ideas, hint and tips
  • Share allied health professionals’ knowledge and expertise
  • Share links to useful resources
  • Share the work of Alzheimer Scotland
  • Share resources that you may not be aware of
  • Allow you to engage with us, share resources and discuss issues.

In this week’s blog we simply wanted to say thank you to all our blog contributors and all our blog readers, we cannot do it without you.   The blog continues to go from strength to strength and we would like to ask you,

  • What do you like about the blog posts?
  • What would make this blog even better in 2018?



Connecting people, connecting support SPOTLIGHT: Allied health professionals adapting everyday environments

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Connecting People, Connecting Support is about how allied health professionals (AHPs) in Scotland can support people with dementia, their families and carers to live positive, fulfilling and independent lives for as long as possible. The document presents an evidence-informed case to support an approach to practice for ALL AHPs in Scotland when working with people living with dementia – what we call the AHP approach. The fundamental understanding driving the AHP approach is that people living with dementia can benefit from AHP-led interventions.   In this week’s blog, we are sharing the AHP contribution to adapting everyday environments .

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The AHP approach


Adapting Everyday Environments

What do we mean by adapting everyday environments?

Adapting everyday environments relates to where the person is staying, whether in his or her own home, a care home or in hospital, and to community settings and outside spaces. Changes can be small, such as improving lighting in a room or enhancing environments by using everyday technology, or making things easier for people through installing equipment or other adaptations

Why is adapting everyday environments important: 5 things you need to know

  1. Most people with dementia live in the community and their quality of life can be significantly improved by ensuring their home environment is well designed.
  2. There is a good research base demonstrating how small changes can make a big difference in enabling people to live at home for longer (Allen et al., 2017), stay independent, remain physically active, reduce falls and enhance psychological wellbeing.
  3. Suitable seating and postural management can enhance people’s ability to engage with those around them, eat and drink independently, and take part in activities.
  4. Specific attention needs to be paid to the environment for people with dementia, whether at home, in a care home or during a stay in hospital (Dementia Services Development Centre, 2013), with specific consideration given to lighting, contrasting colours, noise levels, access to outside spaces and creation of a relaxing environment.
  5. Current, new and developing technology can improve quality of life and support people to stay in their own home for as long as possible, helping people to feel confident, maintain routines, connect to families and friends, go out and share interests and hobbies.


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 3 ways allied health professionals CAN adapt everyday environments?

 1. Enabling environments

AHPs understand the potential impact of environment and how it affects health and wellbeing. They can demonstrate this in their day-to-day practice by completing assessments that focus on how the person interacts with the environment, offering advice on small modifications, and suggesting simple changes to the physical environment in four priority areas: improving lighting; ensuring flooring/paving is consistent in tone; ensuring the toilet is easy to find; and ensuring good contrast in the toilet/bathroom (Dementia Services Development Centre, 2013).  Many AHPs currently offer advice on these issues as they relate to a home environment, hospital (Parkinson & Bushrod, 2012), care environment or as an aspect of routine AHP practice. The purpose is to enable the person with dementia to stay engaged at meal times (thereby enhancing nutritional intake), walk safely and minimise falls, promote engagement in meaningful activities and maximise orientation (Marquardt et al., 2011).

2. Using everyday technology

AHPs working with other specialists can support and offer advice on the use of assistive technology to support independence, enable people to manage their own health, safely fulfil personal aspirations, and stay connected with family and the wider community.

AHPs currently integrate everyday technology use in practice, including extending service reach in rural areas using smart screens that link people in health and social care settings and connecting arts and health interventions in remote and rural communities. Digital storytelling supports communication through a low-tech communication framework, and people are being supported to use touch-screen technology to connect with others, from making contact through social media and iPad use, to conducting environmental home assessments using video conferencing. Visual memory-prompts to support daily activities can be supported by technology, and telecare is becoming integral to supporting older people at home who have experienced a fall.

3. Equipment and adaptions to the home

AHPs, particularly occupational therapists, assess how people interact with the environment and recommend specialist daily living equipment (and the space required to use it) (Walker, 2017). They identify potential adaptations to the home and suggest equipment that can contribute to promoting occupational engagement, independence, health and wellbeing (Boniface et al., 2013).

Advice on adaptations and equipment will reflect current and future needs, what is feasible for the person to remain in his or her own home, how someone may feel about using equipment or having their home changed, how equipment or adaptations may be installed, ongoing maintenance and associated regulations. Occupational therapists who specialise in housing may also contribute to broader housing agendas, advising on adaptations and design that will optimise people’s independence in day-to-day living activities.

Equipment will range from small to large pieces, such as toilet seats, bathing equipment, ramps, wet floor showers and stair lifts. AHPs can provide assessments of suitable seating and specialised chairs, postural management advice to optimise health and wellbeing, and advice and interventions with others to ensure the suitable and accurate provision of any equipment and adaptations to the home.

On reflection

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog and we would like to know

  • As an AHP, how do you currently support people living with dementia in adapting everyday environments?
  • As person living with dementia, what support would you like to receive from allied health professionals to support you to adapt your everyday environments?
  • As family carer, what support would you like to receive from allied health professionals to support you to adapt your everyday environments?

We look forward to hearing from you


There are references supporting this text which you will find in the original report and viewed here with all the evidence informing the policy available at

Alzheimer Scotland’s Tech Team want to share … 3 things you need to know about technology


  1. What is technology?

We think about technology as anything with a plug, so things like your kettle, television and lights etc. We also think about technology as being things that use wifi and Bluetooth e.g. mobile phones, sonos speakers, Amazon echo etc. There are also services that we may receive that are enabled by technology, an example of this would be home monitoring and response offered by local authority Health and Social Care Partnerships.

So technology can be everything from the kettle we use to make our morning cuppa, to the voice activated personal assistant that reminds us we have a doctors appointment that afternoon, to the service that checks we are ok if we trip on the stairs at night.

2. Technology is pretty helpful isn’t it?

People living with dementia and their carers are using technology to support living well with their diagnosis. There are examples of the vast array of products that the dementia community are using on the dementia circle website, Dementia Circle is part of Alzheimer Scotland and the circle is a community of users who trial products and services, and then share their feedback on The website has information on everything from socks to Power of Attorney, and door handles to GPS devices. You can also watch videos and hear from our partners in Scottish Fire and Rescue and health and social care, and download helpful information leaflets.

If you are interested in finding out more about technology to support a diagnosis of dementia, then dementia circle may be a good place to start.

3. Sounds great but isn’t it expensive?

tech2Use of technology products and services by people living with dementia at home can support the person to maintain independent living for longer and mean that a move into residential care may not be necessary. As we know that the cost of care is high there are likely to be monetary savings for individuals and families too.

Technology can be a great way to augment human care in a cost effective way, perhaps even freeing up carers’ time for more person centred activities.

Families caring for a person living with dementia are often proactive in finding ways to support living well with the diagnosis. For many, the internet will be the first place they will look for advice, information and product solutions, and ultimately they may buy products based on whatever their online search has led them to.

This can offer families a wide choice of products and flexibility that may suit their personal situation. However it can also mean that by bypassing more robust sources of support such as local authority  and health and social care services, and peer support groups facilitated by Alzheimer Scotland, that important considerations may be missed and even access to funding.

With so many products available how do we ensure that families are finding the best solutions for themselves? Also individuals may be missing out on payments through Self Directed Support (SDS) that could potentially cover the cost of buying relevant items or accessing technology services.

cardsThe Tech Team at Alzheimer Scotland has facilitated learning days with over 500 practitioners from health and social care, housing, voluntary sector and partner organisations across Scotland. These Tech Enablers can help families to consider technology as part of their care plan and can signpost to other sources of support e.g. SDS, NHS inform.


If you are interested in finding out more go to or contact the Tech Team at Alzheimer Scotland:

  • | @AlzScotTech
  • Nicola Cooper 07880 002 780
  • Charlotte Swarbrick 07880 002 770
  • Gillian Anderson 07876 790 864

Connecting people, connecting support. Ask a speech & Language Therapist


It’s Primary Progressive Aphasia,” the neurologist said. “I’m afraid there’s nothing we can do.”

I worked with someone recently who was given this devastating information. For several months she’d had numerous tests, hospital admissions, scans and appointments while her increasingly concerned family watched her symptoms change and develop.

But this was the final outcome: “Nothing we can do.”


Firstly, what is Primary Progressive Aphasia?

The family I was working with had never heard of it.  Have you?

I work as a speech and language therapist with a special interest in dementia and it’s my business to know about it.   But that doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll have seen it before.

According to Alzheimer Scotland it even has other names –‘ Progressive Non Fluent Aphasia (PNFA), for example, is  a condition that affects a person’s ability to use language. It forms part of a group of related conditions referred to as Frontotemporal dementia (FTD for short)’.

This constantly changing terminology can be confusing and often makes accessing information more difficult.

For that family that day in the doctor’s office, it only added to their feeling of uncertainty and bewilderment. And a simple leaflet from the surgery was never going to cover all the areas of anxiety.

Alzheimer Scotland also says: “Currently, there is no cure or specific treatment for PNFA. There may be ways to treat some of the symptoms but these will depend on the individual’s needs.”

Yet there is a therapeutic army out there who could potentially help with some of the symptoms and work with individual’s needs.

This army comprises allied health professionals (AHPs) who are trained to deal with a wide array of difficulties.

You’ll have heard of all of them but may not have considered them as  players on the same team – occupational therapists, physiotherapists, radiographers, podiatrists, art or music therapists, radiographers, dieticians, orthoptists, orthotists, paramedics and speech and language therapists.

reportA recent AHP  policy document called’ Connecting People, Connecting Support’ outlines how this therapeutic army can improve support for people with dementia, their families and their carers,  to enable them to have positive, fulfilling and independent lives for as long as possible.

When dementia becomes every allied health professional’s business and the workforce is skilled and knowledgeable in best dementia care, it can be transformative.

The woman with Primary Progressive Aphasia went home with the leaflet she couldn’t understand and wondered about her future.

I had an appointment booked with her and visited her at home two days later.  Using simplified language with visual cues and gesture, she was able to discuss her confusion and fear.

We made regular plans for appointments and set goals together.  Each week, we added to a communication book about her life with key words and phrases she could turn to if she felt ‘stuck.’  She looked out old photographs and we talked about family events and happy memories.

She agreed to write down three things she did each day so she could use the speech she had left to chat with her husband each evening.  We plan to develop this into a video diary to record her diminishing voice.

She was losing weight so I referred her to the dietician.  I shared the most successful ways to communicate with the dietician prior to her visit.  This resulted in a comprehensive and detailed assessment, together with a diet plan to encourage her eating, and it was quickly implemented.  She may require the skills of the occupational therapist in future to enable her to manage in the kitchen.   Perhaps the physiotherapist will be asked to help with mobility or the podiatrist can offer appropriate footcare.

We researched PPA together and she began to understand the condition.   She told me she was feeling more positive and hopeful.  She started to live well again with her diagnosis.

Nothing we can do?

The AHP army is mobilised and ready for action, integrating the ambitions of Connecting People, Connecting Support to our everyday practice



Alzheimer Scotland: Progressive Non-Fluent Aphasia Information Leaflet…/Progressive_Non_Fluent_Aphasia

Alzheimer Scotland (2017) Connecting People Connecting Support

jenny_keirJenny Keir
Speech & Language Therapist
NHS Tayside


Living with Dementia … How occupational therapy CAN help.


If you are living with dementia or know someone who has just been diagnosed with dementia you may find these tops tips helpful. Occupational therapists have designed these 3 top tips to help you manage day to day tasks, to stay active and keep connected with your local community. But we are we are really interested to know:

  • What do you like about our top tips?
  • What would have made them even better?
  • What top tips did we miss out?

Staying active in everyday life

  • You have a future – hopes and dreams can still be realised.
  • Keep doing what you enjoy and what’s important to you.
  • Keep your routine going. Routines provide structure and familiarity.
  • Decide what you need help with and what you don’t.
  • Try something new. Use technology, like mobile phone apps, to stay independent.

Taking care of yourself

  • Exercise, get out and about.
  • Eat regularly and have a balanced diet.
  • Stay connected to family and friends.
  • Keep talking. Let people know what helps you with communication.
  • Take time to relax. Be aware of how you feel, it’s OK to have time to yourself.
  • Try to do one thing at a time. Don’t put yourself under pressure

What you can do at home

  • Use reminders for information, dates and appointments. Everyday technology can help.
  • Declutter so the objects you use every day are easier to find.
  • Use colour contrast to make objects stand out.
  • Remove trip hazards, like rugs.
  • Make sure rooms are clearly lit. Consider night lights.

Support from an occupational therapist

An occupational therapist can work with you to overcome the barriers that prevent you from doing what matters to you. Occupational therapy can help you to:

  • Use your strengths and abilities to stay active.
  • Adopt strategies and techniques to continue with daily occupations (activities)
  • Make changes to make life easier and to live safely in your home
  • Access your community, getting to the shops and local facilities.
  • Continue with valued roles, such as working or caring for others.
  • Advise family and friends on how to support you to live well with dementia.

Arranging to see an occupational therapist

You can talk to your GP or a health and social care professional about seeing an occupational therapist. There are occupational therapists working in specialist dementia services and in broader services like rehabilitation and enablement teams. You can also call the help and advice line of your local council to request advice and an assessment. Details of occupational therapy services are usually found under Social Care and Health on council websites.

On reflection

We are however really interested to know:

  • What do you like about our top tips?
  • What would have made them even better?
  • What top tips did we miss out?


Today’s author of this blog was Carrie Milligan, Chair of the Scottish Occupational Therapy Dementia Working Group.  These top tips were designed by the Scottish Occupational Therapy Dementia Working Group. This work links with our ‘with Occupational therapy you CAN’ postcards. If you are an occupational therapist with an interest in dementia and would be interested in being involved in future developments, please get in touch.

Please email Elaine at if you would like a copy the new leaflet

Connecting people, connecting support

Making dementia everyone’s business : a radiographers perspective


I’ve had a keen interest in improving the care of people living with dementia who visit our imaging departments since my grandfather was diagnosed over 20 years ago.

At this time, little was known of the disease in comparison with today and as a consequence patient centred care was not the norm.

Today one million people in the UK will have a diagnosis of dementia by 2025 and this will increase to two million by 2050.

Over the last three years I have been a part of an Allied Health Professions (AHP) dementia expert group. This group was charged with producing a policy document outlining the contribution and impact that AHP’s can have to the quality of life and care given to people living with dementia and their carers in Scotland.

The document titled Connecting People, Connecting Support, has now been published and can be found here, along with an overview of the journey to create the document.

I wanted to write about the experience of being involved with this group as it has highlighted what can be gained from collaborative working.

This document was commissioned by the Scottish Government in partnership with Alzheimer’s Scotland. This meant liaising directly with people living with dementia, hearing directly from them about what would enhance their treatment and ultimately their life.

The group also learned about the various roles of AHPs both within the acute and primary care setting and the part that we all play in the patient journey.

This was a great opportunity to raise the profile of our profession to a wider audience through social media, blogs and literature, all of which can be found on the Alzheimer’s Scotland website.

As a result of this collaborative working we were able to ensure that the document could be aimed at a wide audience, from other healthcare workers to people living with dementia and their carers.

‘Connecting People, Connecting Support’ is mainly demonstrating the work of the four AHP groups, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, dieticians and podiatry, that can have the biggest impact on patient’s living with dementia.

Regardless of the stage that an individual is at on their dementia journey, input from these professions can drastically improve their outcome and ensure that care is patient centred.

The document has several key ambitions. The most pertinent for radiographers working in both therapeutic and diagnostic departments is around the standard of education that should be in place for the multidisciplinary teams working with our departments.

The aim is that all members of the healthcare team will be educated to a skilled level in dementia care.

The terminology used to describe this varies in each of the four countries, however, all have the same aim of ensuring that the framework structures for dementia education are in place.

By guaranteeing fundamental skills and advancing the leadership in this area, we can ensure that care is patient centred. Higher education institutions are integral to this training goal.

Since 2014 all Scottish universities ensure student radiographers are taught dementia care modules to the required level, equipping them with the skills to work with patients living with dementia who visit our departments.

The Society and College of Radiographers have also been instrumental in producing guidelines for radiographers caring for those living with dementia who visit our departments.

These can be found on the Society and College of Radiographers website along with links to other key publications here.

The message I would like anyone reading this article to take away is that by making ‘dementia everyone’s business’, radiographers have scope to improve the care given within our departments.

Each one of us can ensure that we complete the education required and with the help of dementia champions we can continue to look at ways in which we can ensure that the care we offered is tailored to meet our patients varied needs.

Author: Caroline Handley, Diagnostic Radiographer, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde

This article was reproduced by permission of Caroline and the Society and College of Radiographers.  A copy of this article published on the 14th November can be found here:

This article was reproduced by permission of Caroline and the Society and College of Radiographers.  A copy of this article published on the 14th November can be found here:

Author: Caroline Handley, Diagnostic Radiographer, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde

This article was reproduced by permission of Caroline and the Society and College of Radiographers. A copy of this article published on the 14th November can be found here:

Previous blogs by Caroline

11th August 2016 Allied Health Professionals Maximising Physical Wellbeing  WHAT IS A RADIOGRAPHER?

1st June 2017 Maximising Physical Wellbeing: Radiographers making dementia our business!