“What’s important to me”: Living Well with Dementia

The Scottish Dementia Working Group (@S_D_W_G) is a national campaigning group, run by people with dementia. SDWG are the independent voice of people with dementia within Alzheimer Scotland and campaigns to improve services for people with dementia and to improve attitudes towards people with dementia. (http://www.sdwg.org.uk/ )

Over the summer I had the pleasure of working with this fabulous group during my occupational therapy internship with Alzheimer Scotland. We undertook to co-produce a resource where group members could have their “voice” heard at a number of different events.   This project began by inviting members to answer the question:

What’s important to me?”

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Twelve members took part and images of each person with their answer to the question have been collated in a video. We have really enjoyed completing this project and we hope you enjoying watching.

We welcome any feedback and comments about our short film.

Also, what do you do to find out what’s important to the people you work with?

You can also connect with us on twitter at @elaineahpmh and @chrisgcousins and @S_D_W_G

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.


Christopher Cousins

Occupational Therapy Intern  


I am an Occupational Therapy Student from Queen Margaret University and am currently working in the role as Occupational Therapy Intern within Alzheimer Scotland working with The Scottish Dementia Working Group and using social media to promote what we are doing. I am in post for June, July and August 2015.


Occupational Therapy Interns

To introduce ourselves:  We are Lynsey Robertson-Flannigan and Chris Cousins, 2 Occupational Therapy Students from Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh and we are currently completing a 3 month Occupational Therapy Internship based within Alzheimer Scotland in partnership with Santander Universities and Queen Margaret University.

This is what our 3 month internship provides: it gives us work experience within third sector focusing on dementia and AHP work. As there are two of us, we have joint projects we’re working on, a blog being one of them. We each also have our own individual projects that we will be working on throughout our time at Alzheimer Scotland and we’ll keep you updated on these at the blog.

We have put together a few video blogs on our work while we are here.  Please feel free to comment or ask questions.



Christopher Cousins

Occupational Therapy Intern  


I am an Occupational Therapy Student from Queen Margaret University and am currently working in the role as Occupational Therapy Intern within Alzheimer Scotland working with The Scottish Dementia Working Group and using social media to promote what we are doing. I am in post for June, July and August 2015.


Lynsey Robertson-Flannigan

Occupational Therapy Intern  


I am an Occupational Therapy Intern working within the policy team at Alzheimer Scotland. My internship has provided me with the excellent opportunity to work alongside the Scottish Dementia Working Group and support them with a project to share their ‘Top-Tips’ for living well with dementia. I am also completing a literature search on rights based practice to be used in the development of an MSc Dementia module being run at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.

Music Therapy Week 22 – 28 June #MTW2015

Instrumental Role of Music Therapy in Supporting People with Dementia

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This year’s music therapy week has a focus on the instrumental role music therapy has to play in supporting people with dementia and those who care for them. Leading research has shown that music therapy can significantly help to improve and support the mood, alertness and engagement of people with dementia, can reduce the use of medication, as well as helping to manage and reduce agitation, isolation, depression and anxiety, overall supporting a better quality of life (Ridder et al, 2013)

We are celebrating music therapy week with you, with a blog post from Rebecca, our Alzheimer Scotland music therapy intern @mt_rebecca

Catch up with the Alzheimer Scotland Music Therapy Intern

I have now been in post for six months with Alzheimer Scotland and would like to update you on the progress I have been making.  I invite you to listen to my suggested song titles as you read through my blog…

Over the last few months I have been developing my thinking around the practicalities of delivering therapeutic musical activity for people living with dementia. I am in the early stages of developing a document called ‘Music and Me’. This document hopes to do two things:

  1. Promote person centred practice by creating a musical life story for a person living with dementia from childhood through to present day, a profile that can begin at any time for anyone.
  2. Encouraging carers, families, staff, activity organisers and allied health professionals to partnership work and share good practice when engaging people in meaningful musical activity.

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I am about to pilot the idea and work in partnership with a music therapy student from Queen Margaret University in the autumn to see if the theory and aspirations of Music and Me can work in practice.

“I get by with a little help from my friends”, The Beatles

Sharing my learning and my role as a music therapy intern is a large part of my day to day work.  In September 2015, Dr Philippa Derrington  @PLDerrington, Queen Margaret University and I will be presenting at the ‘Music Therapy and Dementia Conference’, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. The title of our paper is ‘Approaching dementia care together’, this will bring focus on the strategic alliance Alzheimer Scotland have formed with Queen Margaret University, and the progress of music therapy within Alzheimer Scotland.  I am looking forward to sharing all the work I have been developing.

“Listen (Dream girls)”, Beyoncé 

Sometimes it’s good to stop, blether and listen! Who knows what we might learn…

Across Scotland AHP’s have been engaging the public in “tea and blether” sessions. The blethers took place throughout dementia awareness week, to help promote the public and professionals to talk about dementia.

I was involved in “blethering” for the week and had many enquiries about the use of music therapy within dementia care. The blether sessions were a great opportunity to spread the word about what music therapist have to offer people living with dementia. On reflection, the blether sessions also provided the AHP’s with the opportunity to listen to the needs of the general public.

“Express yourself”, Labrinth 

Music therapy is all about providing people with the opportunity to express themselves…

Over the last eight weeks I have been running an open music therapy group within Alzheimer Scotland day care services in Dumfries. Music therapy had a role in bringing a group of people together with varying interests, experience and abilities.  The group engaged in creating meaningful music, meaningful conversation and reminiscence therapy. Everyone within the group was able to share the experience with each other and had the opportunity to engage in the music in any way they wished. The music therapy sessions were tailored to peoples individual needs whilst also being part of a group that had a focus on a ‘can do’ attitude.  By doing this I found people were empowered to express themselves within sessions, were creative while also making music.

The feedback from everyone involved was extremely positive.

Some of the comments included:

  • “Music therapy makes me feel happy”
  • “I enjoyed being part of a group”
  • “The music has a big impact on that man, it’s amazing”

The overall feedback suggested that people felt happy and relaxed after the sessions and my colleagues comments reflected this too.

In the next few weeks I will be running music therapy sessions in our sensory day care service in Alzheimer Scotland Dumfries resource centre. The focus of this work will take on a similar format but engage people with advanced dementia. I am confident of the benefits of music therapy for people with advanced dementia, enabling people to engage in a therapy that is inclusive, person centred and has the ability to tap into memories of long ago

“Thank you for the music”, Amanda Seyfried (mamma mia)

Thank you for supporting music therapy and dementia by reading this blog. Please feel to leave reflections, comments and questions below.

June 22nd-28th is music therapy week… why not share your favourite piece of music with a loved one…

Thank you for the music!

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Music Therapist/Music Therapy Intern


I recently graduated from Anglia Ruskin University with a postgraduate Master of Arts degree in Music Therapy. At present I am working with Alzheimer Scotland as a Music Therapist/Music Therapy Intern. I have a key interest in further researching the benefit of music therapy for someone living with dementia. I gained this interest after having a personal experience with a close family friend who had Alzheimer’s disease, I was inspired by her clear motivation when interacting musically with me. This initial experience led me to train as a music therapist.  I hope that throughout my time working with Alzheimer Scotland I can contribute to the growing research around music therapy and dementia care.