Connecting People Connecting Support

Home Based Memory Rehabilitation

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Today we will be welcoming over a hundred and ninety eight people to Queen Margaret University developed in partnership with colleagues from Alzheimer Scotland, NHS Dumfries and Galloway, College of Occupational Therapy, Belfast Health & Social Care Trust with a live stream happening at the same time.  We are connecting  people and organisations together with a shared interest in the occupational therapy contribution to post diagnostic support.

You can watch the day from 10am today or after the event on our live stream link You click on the EventCast Tab and you will see the link to the live stream for the day called “Connecting People Connecting Support. Home Based Memory Rehabilitation” or you can follow us on our hash tag #OTHBMR.

The focus of the day is on Home Based Memory Rehabilitation (HBMR), a developing evidence based occupational therapy early intervention for people living with dementia. It aims to help people compensate for any memory difficulties affecting everyday functioning and engagement in occupation. The structured programme is person centred, encouraging new learned behaviours in the early stages of dementia, creating habits and routines which can then be relied upon over time as a self-management approach. However to hear what it is like to be involved in home based memory rehabilitation, it may be more helpful to watch this short film and hear what home based memory rehabilitation means to people living with dementia and their families.

Hope you can join us on our live stream or following us on twitter at #OTHBMR

For more information on home based memory rehabilitation, please find attached some more information :

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Allied Health Professionals Contribution to Delivering Post-Diagnostic Support. Living Well with Dementia .

A blog post last year by Rachel Goode

Home Based Memory Rehabilitation Programme: an Occupational Therapy early intervention for people living with dementia

And Emma Coutts

The Home Based Memory Rehabilitation Programme

Promoting safety in the home: The home-based Memory Rehabilitation Programme for persons with mild Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias Mary P McGrath

There will be a blog posted about the day at on Friday too


Alison McKean

Alzheimer Scotland AHP Project Lead, Post Diagnostic Support

I am an Occupational Therapist who has worked in the field of dementia for over 14 years.  Over that time, I have seen many changes and am passionate about ongoing developments in Dementia Care.  I am delighted to have recently commenced a part time secondment as the Alzheimer Scotland AHP Project Lead in Post Diagnostic Support.

wendyWendy Chambers: Team lead occupational therapist, NHS Dumfries and Galloway


As a team lead occupational therapist in organic services in Dumfries and Galloway (dementia and learning disabilities), I am keen to ensure the services we provide are what people need, of a high quality and making a definate impact to help people and their families live well with dementia in Scotland.

Q&A with Alison McKean on her role as AHP Project Lead in Post Diagnostic Support in Dementia

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  1. Who is Alison and what matters to you as an individual to keep you healthy, active and independent?

My name is Alison McKean and I’m currently on a part-time secondment as the Alzheimer Scotland Allied Health Professional (AHP) Project Lead in Post Diagnostic Support in Dementia.  I’m originally from the Orkney Islands and apparently still have my accent, I often get asked about this after presentations! I also work as an Occupational Therapist in Dumfries & Galloway, in addition to my secondment and have worked in the field of dementia care for 16 years.

Anyone who knows me will know that I’m slightly obsessed with running and that is what keeps me healthy, active and independent. I’m currently training for the West Highland Way race in June, which at 95 miles is by far the biggest running challenge I have undertaken so far.  In the picture below are my two running companions and we spend many hours in the local forests, which we’re very lucky to have on our doorstep.  This is where I spend a lot of time reflecting on the work I am carrying out.

Ruby and Scapa at Mabie Forest

Ruby and Scapa at Mabie Forest


  1. How would you describe your work as an AHP National Lead and what is the aim of the role?

Firstly, I’ll go back in my career to several years ago when I was working as an Occupational Therapist with a lady who had been living with dementia for a number of years. I’ll always remember her family saying to me “we wish we had known about this Service years ago.”   This got me thinking about how many other people living with dementia and their families are in the same boat, not just in relation to occupational therapy but also the other AHP Groups.

I knew how much the AHPs could also offer people in the early stages of their dementia journey but recognised that often people with dementia and their families were not getting access to us.  My work as AHP National Lead is around developing new ways of working, in partnership, to enable people with dementia and their families to have access to the support of the AHPs at the right time, in order to build resilience and enable them to live well with dementia.

The work is exciting and is always evolving, it is amazing how much can be achieved by having the right conversations with the right people who all have a passion for improvements in dementia care. I am grateful to all the people who have supported this work and what inspires me is thinking back to that visit from several years ago.

  1. With regard to the AHP profile in working with people living with dementia, who should AHP’s be engaging with and what should their key message be?

The key message is that the AHPs have the knowledge and skills to enable people to self manage and live well with dementia for as long as possible. Therefore the AHPs need to continue to engage with people with dementia and their families and carers, the Dementia Link Workers, the Primary Care Practice Teams and each other. If we can all work in partnership, this will achieve the best outcomes for people with dementia.

  1. How do you think AHP’s should raise their profile in dementia care and how important is sharing and spreading good practice?

From carrying out a large piece of national scoping work with the Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Link Workers and the AHPs, it was evident that there was lots of good work already being carried out. However it was clear that the AHPs felt that they could be doing more when people are in the post diagnostic phase.  The AHPs need to continue to identify their best interventions for people with dementia and build on our current evidence base.

AHPs are renowned for being modest and although I myself have never been keen on giving presentations, to put it mildly(!), an important part of this role is sharing the work I am doing. I had the opportunity to present my work at the Alzheimer Europe Conference in Slovenia last year.  Whilst I was in my usual pre-presentation nervous state, Jim Pearson, Director of Policy, Alzheimer Scotland, said to me, “you’ve got a great story to tell, so just tell it”. The session went really well, resulting in new connections and ideas.  I continue to remind myself of the story and the importance of sharing and spreading it.  If I can do it, anyone can!

Just arrived in Slovenia with colleagues from Scotland

Just arrived in Slovenia with colleagues from Scotland

  1. If you could give one piece of advice to a newly qualified AHP, what would it be?

If you have an idea or feel that something could be done better, no matter how small it might seem, do something about it, tell someone and use your determination to see it through. Get out there and work on your story as an allied health professional, you never know where it might lead.

Participating in the 42 mile ‘Devil O The Highlands’ Footrace 2015

Participating in the 42 mile ‘Devil O The Highlands’ Footrace 2015

To find out more about this work you can see all our work on this community of practice:

It’s always inspiring to hear about how the AHPs have made a difference to people in the early stages of their dementia journey – have you got any stories you could share with me?


Alison McKean

Alzheimer Scotland AHP Project Lead, Post Diagnostic Support

I am an Occupational Therapist who has worked in the field of dementia for over 14 years.  Over that time, I have seen many changes and am passionate about ongoing developments in Dementia Care.  I am delighted to have recently commenced a part time secondment as the Alzheimer Scotland AHP Project Lead in Post Diagnostic Support.

“A small change can make a BIG difference”

An Interview with an AHP Dementia Champion

My name is Tracey Stronach and I’m an Occupational Therapist working in a large acute hospital in Edinburgh.

  1. What do you enjoy most about being an occupational therapist?


I’ve always enjoyed working with elderly people and for a number of years have specialised working with this group of people in both acute and rehabilitation hospital settings. When people ask me what I most enjoy about being an Occupational Therapist, I think it’s the difference I can make by identifying the impact of acute and chronic illness on function and safety  and by pro-actively trying to reduce or manage this impact.   My training has enabled me to always see the “bigger picture” and appreciate the effects of the environment and social situation as well as the physical and psychological impact of illness and disability.

  1. Why did you decide to become a dementia champion?

Within dementia care I particularly enjoy using my occupational therapy knowledge to support both the person in hospital and their families and carers at a time when admission to acute care can be distressing. This is especially relevant for a long term condition like dementia, where outcomes are improved with the right environment and a compassionate approach. My role involves identifying services, equipment and adaptations that will improve the quality of life for the person living with dementia and their carer too with the ultimate goal to enable the person to return home.

I was delighted to gain a place on the Dementia Champions programme in 2014, and thoroughly enjoyed my training with colleagues from all over Scotland. Before the course I had read stories of people with dementia who did not experience a good patient journey in acute hospital care.  Gaining skills to help improve the experience of such people was a main driver for me applying.  I was also keen to make sure I knew as much as possible about identifying, and helping reduce, stressed and distressed behaviour in the acute hospital environment.

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  1. What aspect of the dementia champion education did you enjoy the most?

As well as the taught sessions, I really enjoyed my community placement, where I joined an afternoon singing group in a local church. It was such a positive way to meet people living well with dementia and their families and carers.  The community setting was a real contrast to my work environment, where I tend to meet people in a crisis situation. It helped put things in perspective and reinforced the impact that the environment has on the person with dementia. This welcoming atmosphere was very respectful and the volunteers treated those attending in a very inclusive, caring and compassionate way. My assignments helped me to reflect on what I had learnt and identified what ideas and learning I could take back to my workplace.

  1. What has been your proudest moment integrating your new learning as a dementia champion in you day job?

At the same time as becoming a Dementia Champion I took part in a course focussing on learning skills to train others in Dementia Awareness.

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Working with other Occupational Therapists, and using the Dementia Skilled – Improving Practice resource, we have run some training sessions for the support staff in our occupational therapy department. The feedback has been very positive and the sessions have generated discussion, reflection and the sharing of ideas.  I think my proudest moments come when I can see that someone has used the information taught to make a positive change in caring for someone with dementia. This could be a practical skill; using more sensitive or up to date terminology; or altering a perception or belief.  The change needn’t be huge – even a small change can make a big difference!

  1. What would you say to your colleagues to encourage them to be a dementia champion too?

I feel very privileged to have completed two major programmes of learning in the field of dementia care. I would recommend anyone to take up the opportunity of training – the more Dementia Champions we have, the better care we can provide for people living with dementia – and their families and carers. I’m sure this is the highest priority for all those who work with people living with dementia.

Final thoughts……

I’d be interested to hear how other Dementia Champions are putting their training into practice.

  • What’s been working well?
  • How do we demonstrate we make a difference to the lives of those with dementia?


pic-1-ConvertImageTracey Stronach

Specialist Occupational Therapist – Mobile Medicine of the Elderly Team


I’m an Occupational Therapist working in a large acute hospital in Edinburgh. I’m part of a mobile Medicine of the Elderly team which involves working with people being treated on non-Medicine of the Elderly wards within our hospital. This brings equity of care to this often vulnerable group of people.

Allied Health Professionals

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Who are they and how can they help you?

Allied health professionals are a group of various health professionals who can support you if you have dementia. They are often referred to as AHPs and are registered with the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC).
Allied health professionals are experts in prevention and rehabilitation and will help you focus on your abilities and strengths so you can stay connected to your community and live in your own home for as long as possible. There are several different kinds of allied health professionals and we designed a leaflet about those AHP’s you are most likely to see in a community setting including:
Dieticians to help you to eat and drink well
Occupational therapists to help you to continue with the occupations (activities) that are important to you from getting dressed to hobbies or going to work
Physiotherapists who you to stay active
Podiatrist who you to look after your feet
Speech and language therapists who help you with your everyday conversations and any difficulties you have with swallowing food and fluids.
For other AHP’s (arts therapists, orthoptists, paramedics, prosthetist, orthotists and radiography) visit
It is best to make early contact with an AHP if you are worried about your memory or if you or someone in your family has recently been diagnosed with dementia. That way you can get the information, advice and treatment that is right for you and your family as quickly as possible. Our leaflet describes how AHP’s can help and how to get in touch with them.

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5 things you should know about the AHP leaflet
1. We designed the leaflet in partnership with the allied health professional bodies, who endorsed and supported the content of the section about their profession
2. We worked with the Scottish Dementia Working Group (S_D_W_G) and the National Dementia Carers Action Network on the content and language use

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3. We will be updating the leaflet at the end of this year and welcome comments on how useful the leaflet. Tell us your idea and comment on this blog or email us at We will also ask you during Scotland’s Dementia Awareness week (30 May-5 June)
4. We have already shared over 3,000 of the leaflets so far since its launch last summer
5. You can receive a copy of the leaflet 6 ways
• online,
• from an Alzheimer Scotland link worker
• from your local Alzheimer Scotland dementia advisor
• at your local Alzheimer Scotland resource centre
• from your local NHS AHP
• email us at and we will send you a copy.

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Thank you for reading this blog. We look forward to hearing your views and ideas on our allied health professional leaflet and this blog?

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Elaine HunterElaine Hunter
Allied Health Professional Consultant, Alzheimer Scotland

My remit in Alzheimer Scotland is to bring the skills of AHPs to the forefront of dementia practice and to share with them the principles and practice of working in a major charity that is dedicated to “making sure nobody faces dementia alone”. I am leading the delivery of commitment 4 of Scotland’s Dementia Strategy. In short, a great job working with great people.

Alzheimer Scotland AHP PhD Studentship

The Tailored Activity Programme

Can you tell us about who Niamh is?

I am Niamh Kinsella and I recently completed a postgraduate MSc in Occupational Therapy at Queen Margaret University. I am now studying full time for a PhD which has been offered as part of the strategic alliance between Queen Margaret University and Alzheimer Scotland.

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I studied sociology and social policy as my undergraduate degree in Dublin and moved to Scotland in 2013. I have an interest in dementia which comes from both personal and practice experience. I have a particular interest in self-management and a strong belief that everybody deserves to live a full, balanced and healthy life with as much help as is necessary. I feel that occupational therapy has much to offer and development of its evidence base is another step towards supporting people living with disabilities to live a full, happy and healthy life.

What inspired you to study occupational therapy?

During my time studying in Dublin I became very aware of and interested in the social issues that are frequently present across society. I began to question the impact that they have on health and the impact that poor health has on an individual socially. This interest was also inspired by classes in global health and social justice.

I have always been a practical person and knowledge of health and social issues was not enough. I explored my options and spent time volunteering at a respite centre for people living with a variety of disabilities. I decided that occupational therapy was a practical path to take which would allow me to develop my knowledge of health and social issues while also providing the opportunity to work with people in many areas of health and social care.

I understood occupational therapy to be a profession which aligned with my own values which was important to me. I also had some personal experience of the difficulties that a person with a physical or mental health problem may face and began to understand the value of occupational therapy and the very clear link between occupation and good health.

What is your current role?

My current role is primarily in completing a PhD which will involve research into the Tailored Activity Programme (TAP) – a prescription based activity programme for people living with dementia and their care partners implemented by HCPC occupational therapists. I am in the early stages of the research process and am hoping to complete the PhD by September 2018.

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As the research progresses I will be involved in presenting and disseminating results to a wide audience on behalf of Alzheimer Scotland. It is expected that the research findings will help to enhance the evidence base for occupational therapists who work with people living with dementia and their carers. I hope that contributing to the evidence base will promote both occupational therapists and allied health professionals as valuable assets in health and social care for people living with dementia.

What impact do you hope your PhD will have on people living with dementia and their families?

I am hoping that the results of my research will demonstrate the value of using an evidence-based intervention for occupational therapists and result in an increase in its use. Increased use of such an intervention may then provide people living with dementia and their families with the necessary tools to live well with dementia at home for longer.

In addition, I hope that dissemination of the results of my PhD will result in increased awareness and understanding of the possibilities available to people living with dementia and their families as well as of the difficulties facing them. Awareness of a possibility of living well with dementia may reduce stigma and misconceptions associated with the disease and, hopefully, encourage the wider community to offer appropriate support when necessary.

What has been the best part about being a PhD student?

Although my PhD journey has only just begun, I have found the prospect of finding positive, encouraging results through studying the tailored activity programme (TAP) in partnership with the occupational therapists currently implementing TAP, and the impact that this may have, extremely exciting and motivating. This has been a great start and is a feeling which I hope will maintain my energy and enthusiasm for the research throughout the PhD process. Being a full time PhD student has also offered me time to learn about and understand something which interests me greatly and to develop research skills which I hope will stand to me in the future.

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You can find out more of the current work in Scotland here:

I would welcome any comments on my blog or on the work we are developing to research a prescription based activity programme for people living with dementia and their care partners implemented by HCPC occupational therapists.


pic 6Niamh Kinsella, PhD student, Alzheimer Scotland and Queen Margaret University


My current role is as a PhD student, completing research into the Tailored Activity Programme for Alzheimer Scotland. My position is a result of the partnership agreement between Alzheimer Scotland and Queen Margaret University which aims to educate allied health professionals to understand the needs of people living with dementia and to work more effectively. My role in PhD research will contribute to the development of an evidence base to support these aims, as well as development of an evidence base for experienced and practicing allied health professionals.