Let’s Talk About Dementia Resource Centres (part 1)

Creating Helensburgh’s new DRC

Over the coming 4 months we want to take you on our journey as we create a new dementia resource centre in the Heart of Helensburgh.

In 2010 Helensburgh Services opened one of Alzheimer Scotland’s first DRC’s with the support of Helensburgh & District Branch and a group of very enthusiastic volunteers.

381972_394894373922624_1260509252_n[1]This was a brave step in taking dementia into the high street, however very quickly we realised the community of Helensburgh was right behind us with our volunteer team growing from 10 to 25 in the first 6 months.

Why Move

Over the past 5 years we very quickly outgrew our current premises, often having to hire venues that were not always suitable for the events & groups we wanted to host. Our dementia advisor often had to meet with people with dementia & families in coffee shops and our staff found themselves having meetings in the kitchen as the office was too busy.

The Challenge

Premises have been a challenge to source and we have had our hopes dashed a number of times over the past couple of years. We needed to find somewhere that was central, that had space we could use flexibly for a variety of activities while being a welcoming environment for people looking for information, advice and support. The space also needed to be fit for a growing staff team and that could accommodate a Community Outreach Service.

We need YOUR help

We now need to grow out volunteer group to allow us to have the DRC operational as often as possible and offering a variety of opportunities for people living with dementia and their families. We also need to raise £100,000 – that will enable us to create a DRC that is fit for the future and that the community of Helensburgh is proud of.

Please take a moment to support the build of our new DRC by donating to our JustGiving page here

To get involved, fundraise or follow our progress email me at jarmitage@alzscot.org or visit our local facebook page.


Creating Helensburgh’s new DRC part 2

next month we will show you what we found and how work is progressing…right in the Heart of Helensburgh!


IMG_0199Jean Armitage, Policy and Engagement Manager, Alzheimer Scotland


My remit as a Policy and Engagement Manager with Alzheimer Scotland is interesting and varied with four main areas of work – Membership engagement, Representation and policy, Fundraising and Supporting & working with Branches.

For me it is about ensuring people’s views and experiences inform policy makers’ decisions, that voices are listened to at both local and national level and that people are enabled to get involved in the way that suits them.

8 Things You Need to Know about “Let’s Talk About Dementia”

  • The blog was launched on the 12th June 2014
  • We have had over 13,000 hits
  • We have reached over 40 countries
  • 263 people receive the blog post by email every Thursday morning
  • Our top three views have been from the Britain, America and Canada
  • The “traffic” is coming from face book and twitter
  • Our top four posts have been:  6 Things You Need to Know About the 10 Care Actions, Dementia & Falls, 3 Tips to Creating and Enabling Home Environment and “Outside My Comfort Zone” – Occupational Therapy Student Placement
  • We could not do it without you, so “thank you” for talking about dementia

Let’s keep talking about dementia: at home, at work, in the street and on the bus, in cities, towns and villages across Scotland and beyond.

Next week’s blog post will invite you to comment on how we can make this blog post useful to you if you are living with dementia or are a carer, family member or partner.

“Outside my comfort zone” – Occupational Therapy Student Placement

My fourth and final Occupational Therapy placement at Alzheimer Scotland was daunting and exciting all at the same time. Research discusses non-traditional or role-emerging placements however as far as I was concerned terminology was immaterial, this was not NHS and was outside my comfort zone.

Emails and final arrangements were confirmed and I was sent a timetable for the 8 weeks of my placement. Some may have been overwhelmed with the multiple pretty coloured schedule however my preference for organisation was loving this! My Practice Educator within Alzheimer Scotland was obviously going to be my kind of person, organised and clear.

Core Skills of Occupational Therapy

My personal focus initially involved attempting to identify the core skills of Occupational Therapy and potential for occupation based approaches in a non-traditional AHP student placement. A presentation to staff within the office provided an opportunity to articulate and demonstrate the core skills of occupational therapy through a group activity to complete an occupational analysis, with the obvious inclusion of cake to promote further engagement for a student presentation.

1Groups, support and advice

During the 8 week placement I attended dementia cafés, a choir, carers groups, assisted at information events and utilised meaningful occupations to encourage engagement and potential strategies to support independence with people living with dementia.

Every day my children would ask questions about me going to cafés and singing in a choir, so not only was I relating and discussing occupational therapy theory on placement, I was returning home and justifying the occupational perspective to my kids – the joys of being a mature student.

Events and groups are all facilitated by Alzheimer Scotland to provide advice whilst supporting people living with dementia, their families and carers.

Dementia cafes

Dementia cafés, I thought, “great, sounds like a relaxing cup of tea and a blether”. I was so wrong, these cafes are so so much more for those who attend. During every café I met fantastic people willing to share stories and experiences, ranging from daily challenges faced, to support independence, to favourite holiday locations and what was happening on Emmerdale. Those attending received peer support and advice from the attending Dementia Advisors.

Attending the cafés evoked a discussion with my Practice Educator regarding ‘being’ and ‘doing’. On reflection, a key moment during my placement and during my studies was realising my passion for my new career as an occupational therapist, the potential to initiate the occupational therapy process in unconventional environments whilst identifying meaningful occupations and challenges.

Music and singing

Choir, another fantastic opportunity to observe the great groups facilitated by Alzheimer Scotland. However, participation was involved, a huge accomplishment to the Dementia Advisor considering I am the person who only sings alone in the car. The choir demonstrated the benefits of social engagement through music, for some a new experience and for others a love they have participated in for many years. 

My placement

This placement consolidated the value of identifying the meaningful element with 1:1 sessions including encouraging a person to demonstrate their ballroom dancing skills in their living room and increasing a person’s confidence in using an iPad to download family photographs and apps. I could go on forever however my word count for this blog is ending, therefore I want to finish by highlighting my three key learning points during my placement in Alzheimer Scotland as an occupational therapy student:

  1. Always consider person first, no matter what the setting,
  2. Identifying and applying individually meaningful       occupation is one of our unique core skills and if success includes a smile, I can’t explain the overwhelming personal and professional feelings of satisfaction,
  3. Occupational Therapy has huge potential to enhance the services, support and advice provided by Alzheimer Scotland.


The development of contemporary issues within occupational therapy can be enhanced and influenced by everyone, offering a student placement within a third sector organisation is a key example of this. I would welcome your thoughts on this blog and invite you to consider:

  • What can an occupational therapy/AHP student learn when they are on placement in a third sector organisation?
  • If you are a third sector organisation, what benefits could an occupational therapy/AHP student offer your organisation whilst on placement.

KirstyKirsty Stanley – Occupational Therapy Student


This is my final year at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, already consolidating my passion for a uniquely influential profession with an ability to influence people’s lives.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in the organisation of my placement but there are individuals who have been particularly influential in the experience and will not be forgotten.

#24AEC: Dignity and Autonomy in Dementia

In October, the biggest dementia conference was held in Scotland, attended by over 700 people from over 39 countries. It was the 24th Annual Conference of Alzheimer Europe, an umbrella organisation of 36 Alzheimer associations from 31 countries across Europe supported this year by Alzheimer Scotland @alzscot.

The focus of the conference was on Dignity and Autonomy in Dementia and the four day event explored how recognising the human rights of people with dementia, their carers, partners and families is key to ensuring dignity and respect, as well as overcoming stigma.

Key to the event was the signing of the Glasgow Declaration: a commitment to promoting the rights, dignity and autonomy of people living with dementia across Europe. You can find out more about the Glasgow Declaration here.

The conference showcased best practice in informing and empowering people with dementia to make vital decisions regarding their own support and care needs, as well as supporting their participation at local, national and international level in shaping health and social care policies. The event had a lot of interest in social media and you can follow what happened by looking at #24AEC hashtag or following @AlzheimerEurope and @alzscot.

The presentations and posters will be on the Alzheimer Europe website however we decided for this week’s blog to show some of the highlights in the photo gallery.

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Get in touch

  • What were your highlights from this year’s Alzheimer Europe Conference #24AEC?
  • Also why not send us a photograph of your highlight to TalkingDementia@Alzscot.org and we will add them to our gallery. We will then also sign you up to our blog, then every Thursday morning, you will receive notifications of new posts by email

Connecting People, Connecting Support

After World Alzheimer Day on the 22nd September, we hosted a one day conversation celebrating the best in Supported Self-Management for people with dementia and co-creating the future direction. In this week’s blog we will share with you what we did that day, including a launch of a publication, live stream presentations, posters, structuring the day around appreciative inquiry and interviewed delegates. During the day we kept talking about dementia and we hope you enjoy some of the resources we have developed as a result of the day.

Launching a publication

Our first speaker for the day was Jacqui Lunday Johnston launched our second publicationAllied Health Professionals Delivering Post-Diagnostic Support: Living Well with Dementia”. Click here to access a copy of the publication.


Four Presentations

The day included presentations from

  • Jacqui Lunday Johnston , Scottish Government @JacquiCHPO
  • Dr Claire Craig, Sheffield Hallam University
  • Peter, David & Carol, Scottish Dementia Working Group @S_D_W_G
  • Amy Dalrymple, Alzheimer Scotland @alzscot


You can view all the presentations here.

Co-Create the Future Direction

To enable us to celebrate whilst “co-create the future direction” of post diagnostic support, we structured the day on the principles of appreciative inquiry, inviting all participants to capture their thoughts and consider these questions:

  • When supported self -management really works, what kinds of things happen for you and the person with dementia?
  • Walk 12 months down the line and imagine that supported self-management exceed the expectations of everyone, draw that picture, describe that vision, communicate those emotions, define those outcomes
  • What one thing can you do tomorrow to start this journey
  • What would you put in place around supported self-management if you Knew success was guaranteed?


Delegate Interviews

Here is what our delegates thought of the day

Here is who they are:

  • Jacqui Lunday Johnston, CHPO, Scottish Government
  • Dorothy Hathaway, podiatrist, NHS Fife
  • Fiona Roberts, link worker, Alzheimer Scotland,
  • Rebecca Kellet, speech and language therapist, NHS Dumfries and Galloway
  • Ylva Champion, occupational therapist, NHS Highland
  • Joanna Payne, occupational therapist, NHS Ayreshire and Arran
  • Lynne Douglas, AHP Director, NHS Lothian
  • Alison Groat, AHP Post Diagnostic Project Lead, Alzheimer Scotland
  • Prof Maggie Nicol, Chair of the Alzheimer Scotland AHP Expert Group
  • Dr Norma Clark, AHP Mental Health lead, NHS Fife

The names in purple also at contributors to the AHP Publication


Your Reflection

Peter on the day shared with us, “crucial thing is early support because it helps you to adapt, helps you to make choices, to make decisions………


From reviewing all the resources we have shared in this blog, what has been the most relevant for you? We would love to hear your views.









Photo Gallery from the day and still more to be added

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