Let’s Talk About Dementia Resource Centres (part 2)

Creating Helensburgh’s new DRC (part 2)

We have found a new home where people with dementia and families will be able to access information, support and advice from as well as being a one stop shop for the community.

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The Challenge

We need to turn this fantastic space into a dementia friendly resource centre. Alzheimer Scotland has a blueprint to work from now that ensures we create a space that is a strong community hub offering information, advice, practical support and a wonderful, welcoming space for people living with dementia – both in the town and across Helensburgh, Lomond and the Lochside.

What we have done

To ensure we met the needs of those currently accessing our local services we invited people to come along and tell us what they would like in a new centre – we also consulted on the colour schemes, furnishings and art work. The consultation was carried out face-to-face and via email and through our Facebook page. We really do want this new centre to belong to the people living in our community.

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What next?

We’ve raised an amazing £24,000 already but we really need your help to come up with the remaining £76,000. If you’d like to help raise the vital cash we need to bring our centre to the heart of Helensburgh, we’ve got some great fundraising ideas in our toolkit

Check it out today and with your help Alzheimer Scotland will ensure the people of Helensburgh, Lomond and the Lochside do not go through dementia alone.

Please support this project with a donation by clicking here.

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.



“Realising Potential Together”

Last week saw the launch of an allied health professional policy document called “Driving Improvement: Implementing Realising Potential an Action plan for Allied Health Professionals in Mental Health” (Scottish Government 2014). The policy document reflects on the progress that has been made through the implementation of Realising Potential (Scottish Government 2010) and considers how future AHP practice should be shaped. However the policy document was always about harnessing allied health professionals creativity and energy and did not “ask AHP’s to do extra. It asks AHP’s to do differently”. (Scottish Government 2012). I am delighted to showcase the launch in this week’s blog and share a bit more about what and who the allied health professionals are.

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“Making the invisible visible” through social media

Realising Potential encouraged multidisciplinary and multisectoral team-working and helped people to understand the added value AHPs bring to mental health and dementia services. A number of us tweet and on the day we used the hash tag #RealisingPotential2015 where we had some great conversations and interest in our work. Thanks to everyone who joined us.

“Tree of Celebration”

Like all great work, “none of us are smarter than all of us”. On the day we launched our “tree of achievement”. For the next year we will take the banner around Scotland inviting colleagues to add a leaf and share what they are proud of.

“Journey to Work”

During the launch we were reminded of the many ways AHPs are helping adults of working age to gain the confidence and skills to return to the work environment – or indeed to take up employment for the first time. We heard from Robert Reid how important that was when he read his poem.

thank you for all you did for me

i connected well enough to now be a support worker

i fought you all because i was terrified to be happy

when you have lived in darkness you do not recognise light

deep is the only up you know

with the help of some truly amazing people i am healing

i have had two of my poems published

i have had two exhibitions of my poems

i am going to publish an E-Book soon

i still doubt

i taught myself that when you sing it is impossible to be unhappy

i am growing I

am smiling

i am writing

i am happy I

am poet!!

thank you

Dementia Friendly Communities: ‘It’s just so AHP’

We heard and celebrated the partnership approach that has lead the way in dementia friendly communities in Scotland and heard from Sarah (@sarahahpmh) on the work in Highland to use technology to connect arts and health for therapeutic interventions in remote and rural communicated.  You can find out more by linking to this website. http://www.adementiafriendlycommunity.com/

Smile please

On the day we had over 40 AHP’s there from all over Scotland, sharing their posters, their awards and their work. This is just some of the great photos.

Where next & what now

“…..the Realising Potential story is far from over.

We have so much more to do and so much more to give”

We heard these words on the day and will continue to look forward and build on the momentum created to ensure the benefits gained of working together as a collective group of AHP’s does not diminish or disappear. We were encouraged to inform people of who the allied health professionals are and what we can do with the aim to develop a shared understanding of the positive impact allied health professionals can have on the challenges facing services today.

If you were to add a leaf on our tree of achievement what would you answer when asked:-

“What are you proud of? What has made a difference? What do you want to shout about?

You can review Robert’s poems on Amazon or Facebook.


Scottish Government 2010  Realising Potential http://www.scotland.gov.uk/resource/doc/314891/0100066.pdf

Scottish Government 2012 Realising Potential: our own and others. Report from the National Allied Health Professional Mental Health Clinical Leads Group on Implementation of the Action Plan, 2010-2011 http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0038/00389352.pdf

Scottish Government 2014 Driving Improvement: Implementing Realising Potential an Action plan for Allied Health Professionals in Mental Health http://www.gov.scot/resource/0045/00458245.pdf


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.


5 Environmental Hints & Tips

“If you get it right for dementia, you get it right for everyone”

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  1. Signage
  • Should be clear and concise and have good contrast between text and background
  • There should be contrast between sign and mounting surface
  • Should be fixed to the doors they refer to (not adjacent surfaces)
  • Signs should be at eye level and visible
  • Avoid the use of stylised or abstract images when implementing signage
  • Implement signs at key decision points to help with navigation / way finding
  • Signs are critical for toilets and exits
  • Always have glass doors visibly marked to avoid accidents.
  1. Orientation
  • Research has shown that people with dementia use landmarks to navigate their way around both inside and outside
  • The more attractive and interesting the landmark is, the easier it is to use (plants and pictures are good examples).
  1. Lighting
  • Entrances should be well lit and easy to access
  • Use natural light as much as possible as artificial lights can be dazzling
  • Overly bright lights and shadows should be prevented where possible
  • Use of brighter primary colours can help to lighten up dark areas.
  1. Seating
  • In large premises a seating / waiting area can be very beneficial to avoid fatigue
  • Seating should resemble traditional seats for example a ‘wooden bench’ or ‘chair’ as apposed to a ‘Z’ new style seat.
  1. Flooring / Stairs
  • Avoid highly reflective and slippery floor surfaces
  • Changes in floor finish should be flush
  • Stairs should be contrasting colour to floor in order to show the obstacle clearly
  • Avoid using mats/rugs where possible as they may pose an obstacle.

You can download this information to share with others. Let us know how, where and who you shared the 5 environmental hints and tips with.


We also have a new resource called “Building Motherwell’s Dementia Friendly Community” which you may also find interesting.

Click to access Dementia_Everyone_27s_Business.pdf

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Role of a Dementia Advisor: Supporting you, your family and your friends within your local community

“This support is person centred and we strive to ensure we are providing the right support at the right time”

Increasing social support

Within North Lanarkshire we have a variation of supports available including one to one and group support which allows us to get to know the person really well, identifying interests and hobbies to allow the person to enjoy a quality life.  These supports enable the person to access community links, and also socialise with people within their local area.  We know that reducing isolation and increasing social support is paramount.

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We understand that not everyone will enjoy one to one or group support, therefore we have recently started a Dining Club in the evening at a local hotel and also a Brunch Club, within a pub setting to encourage people who are worried about their memory to come along.  These types of supports are ideal for younger adults to enjoy, as it is seen as a less formal support within friendly welcoming environments.  We very much encourage families and friends to come along and participate to ensure we are supporting and involving everyone that’s facing dementia.

Confidence to talk about dementia

Many people who receive the diagnosis of dementia are still of working age, therefore as the dementia progresses, work may not be as simple as it used to be.  On many occasions people have to give up work.  However they still have many skills and qualities that can be used in a different way.  Thinking about this and how we can involve people living with dementia more, we now have people sitting on the interview panel when recruiting staff for Alzheimer Scotland Lanarkshire Services. This has worked very well for all parties involved where one of the panel said

‘I feel like I have a purpose’ and ‘feel like it helped knowing what type of person may be supporting me in the future.’

It has given him a focus and something to look forward to also, more importantly the confidence to talk about dementia.  He has been diagnosed for a while and only recently started telling people.  He now attends the dementia cafes within his local community to increase his social support.  His wife is much happier as they both are now socialising with other people in similar situations as themselves.  His wife said

 ‘It’s not as scary as you first think; people are living well and looking well.’ 

The couple also attend the dining club.  This allows them to meet other people within a really nice environment and if/when they need more formal supports, they are known to us.

Have your voice heard

We actively ask people to become more involved within their area thus allowing their voices to be heard.  We link into the Scottish Dementia Working Group (SDWG) and also work closely with the Deputy Regional Managers who are currently recruiting people within their local regions to develop a local dementia working groups, which will help a wider voice be heard of those living well with dementia.  I met one man after he became involved and he said to me

I’ve never been so busy since I got that D word – a diary!!!!!!’ 

Fantastic feedback.  This allows that man to manage his diary and workload to ensure he isn’t overwhelmed or overloaded, a great asset to have within our local community.

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Welcome your comments

I would be interested to hear your comments on this blog and your reflection on what kind of support works for you if you are living with dementia or a carer or a family member?

More information

If you wish to become more involved within North Lanarkshire please contact Lorna Hart on 01698 539790 or email lhart@alzscot.org

Or if you wish to become more involved in your own local care, please call the Dementia Helpline 0808 808 3000or visit our website www.alzscot.org


lorna hartLorna Hart

Dementia Advisor – North Lanarkshire @hart_lorna

My role is all about supporting people with dementia and their families within their local community ensuring that they are coping and living well. Providing people with the right information at the right time and signpost to appropriate organisations if need be. I thrive on enabling, empowering and encouraging people to plan for the future and to enjoy an active and sociable lifestyle

What does it mean to be a leader in dementia care?

For me, as an Allied Health Professional (AHP), leadership means striving to make a difference in the lives of others. It means believing in yourself and those you work with, loving what you do and inspiring others with energy and enthusiasm.

Until “LETS TALK ABOUT DEMENTIA”, you have probably not heard too much about AHPs. Our endeavours and accomplishments don’t feature regularly on the national news. Yet AHPs are making a difference in the care and treatment of people with dementia every day, not just in the National Health Service but in local authorities, the voluntary sector, educational systems and governmental departments, volunteer groups, huge cities and rural communities.

When most people think of leaders, they recall great historical figures such as Florence Nightingale or Sir Winston Churchill or they think of “big names” in the news, such as Nelson Mandela, who still commands a spotlight even after his passing in 2013.

Yet there are leaders working in every organisation, at every level, large and small. Leadership is all around us every day in all facets of our lives – our families, schools, universities, communities, churches and social clubs as well as in the world of health and social care.

I am working with allied health professionals who are dementia champions, who are looking to see how we work with the link workers for post diagnostic support, who are integral to Alzheimer Scotland AHP dementia expert group, have become a “dementia friend” and are leading on small test of change within their own sphere of influence.

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The qualities that make AHPs good leaders can be effective whether one is leading a strategic multidisciplinary group, a uniprofessional team, an integrated clinical team, a group of undergraduate students or a clinical group intervention.

Definition of Leadership

Leadership is an influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes and outcomes that reflect their shared purposes (Daft, 2008)

The Hallmarks of Great Leadership

Rudy Giuliani (2002), the former mayor of New York, reflected on what it takes to make a great leader. Some of his principles include:

  • develop and communicate strong beliefs
  • accept responsibility
  • surround yourself with great people
  • study, read and learn independently

Giuliani makes the key point that leadership does not just happen. It can be learned and developed through practice as well as by studying the leadership ideas and behaviour of great leaders.

The best leaders, at all levels in any organisation, are those who are genuinely interested in other people and find ways to bring out the best in them. In addition, today’s leaders value change over stability, empowerment over control, collaboration over competition, diversity over uniformity and integrity over self-interest.

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On reflection

Coaching has emerged partly to help people through the transition to a new paradigm of leadership. Coaches encourage leaders to confront their own flaws and hang ups that inhibit effective leadership, then help them develop stronger emotional and interpersonal skills.

This brings up an interesting question: how do AHPs become effective leaders? My experience is that leadership depends on self-discovery. So I ask: are you prepared to look inward, to confront your own flaws, and learn?


Daft RL 2008         The Leadership Experience

Giuliani RW 2002 Leadership Time Warner Paperbacks


Shelagh Creegan – Associate AHP Director for Mental Health and Learning Disabilities


As an occupational therapist working in the National Health Service in Scotland, Shelagh has 31 years clinical experience working with adults with severe and enduring mental health conditions.  For the past 10 years, she has been professional lead OT in the Dundee General Adult Psychiatry Service.  Shelagh also has 4 years experience in an overarching strategic AHP leadership role in NHS Tayside’s Mental Health Service.