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.




‘Pocket Ideas…for a moment in time’ a person centred approach in Acute Care

Pocket Ideas, what is it?

So if a person with dementia or carer wanted to know what to expect when being introduced to “pocket ideas” what would I say?

‘Pocket Ideas’ is a portable pocket sized book filled with prepared activities and inspirational quotes to help stimulate conversation. These conversations can take place whilst working with a patient in the ward, as the book is very portable, or in a group situation.

It’s an opportunity for us all to remember to see the person who has had many life experiences, skills and knowledge. It helps to build therapeutic relationships, reduce distress, reinforce the benefits of meaningful activity and person centred care. It’s a tool that anyone can use and anywhere, reminding us that every moment we have to offer older people in meaningful experiences is valuable, and essential in our professional practice. Enjoy the experience using it and the opportunity to reminisce, remember and even talk about new topics.

I would also tell them that this initiative won an award last year, in the category of “Best Acute Initiative” of Scotlands Dementia Awards 2014.

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5 Top Tips using ‘Pocket Ideas’

  1. Only takes 5 minutes to have a moment in time with an individual, and it reinforces the importance of meaningful activity.
  2. Simple prepared activities and inspirational pictures to stimulate a conversation.
  3. Encourages positive therapeutic relationships and reinforces the importance of humanity, compassion, person centred care and being actively engaged.
  4. Portable pocket sized tool and can be used anywhere by anyone.
  5. Enjoy using it, as a moment in time can bring back a memory, reduce stress, provide comfort and make you smile.

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5 things you need to know when designing a resource like this

  1. Understand what the problem is and creative ways to address it.
  2. Importance of engaging relevant staff members to support project ideas.
  3. Establish a working group to talk about ideas, set achievable goals and support each other to realise a possibility and make a difference.
  4. Create a prototype using creative ideas.
  5. Develop a means to measure the benefits of using the prototype and then pilot the project idea in the relevant area.

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My top recommendation to make something happen, surround yourself with a great team.

Our team picture includes; left to right Jean Knox, (Technical instructor), Gillian Agnew (Occupational therapists), me in the middle, Elaine Tizzard (Technical instructor) and Darrell Line (Technical instructor).

I would welcome any reflections on my blog post

I would also like to leave you with a question to consider and reflect on

How can we ensure, if you are living with dementia and require to go into an acute care setting that every contact with a health care professional is person centred and we ask you “what is important to you”

Andrea Boyd

Occupational Therapist, NHS Ayrshire and Arran


I am currently on secondment and leading up the project ‘Pocket Ideas…for a moment in time’. I have been an Occupational Therapist for many years, but this is such an exciting opportunity to continue with the development of our person centred tool with the support of my ‘Activity Team’.


Sharing Practice and Sharing Stories in Dementia Care

“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today”

Robert McAfee Brown (attributed)

Monday 15 December 2014 saw the official launch of three new publications for Allied Health Professionals in Scotland: Agents of Change; Living Well with Dementia; and Living Well with Community Support. Published by the Scottish Government and Alzheimer Scotland, these publications highlight the impressive work carried out by AHPs in delivering improvement for people living with dementia and those who care for them, as well as leading change in practice. This week’s blogs is a Q & A on the “suite of three AHP documents”

What’s included?

The reports are full of rich stories of how it ‘can be’ when allied health professionals are getting it right for people living with dementia and their carers. Together the reports have 9 forewords, 41 narratives from a range of organisations including 10 NHS Boards, 1 specialist board, 2 third sector organisations and 3 local authorities.

Who has contributed?

Scottish Dementia Working Group (@S_D_W_G), National Dementia Carers Action Network,  8 allied health professionals (art therapy, dieticians, music therapy, occupational therapy, paramedics, physiotherapy, podiatry,  speech and language therapy), Scottish Government and Alzheimer Scotland.


What has been the key to success?

The success of this work has relied heavily on leadership and partnership. Professional leadership from all the contributors who use their skills to help people with dementia cope better and improve their quality of life. Also, the work of the AHP’s in dementia care is only possible as a result of partnership working, partners in the same organisation and many new partnerships being developed and built upon.

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Why did you do three publications?

All 41 narratives are focused on real life, real people, and are a powerful way to highlight the positive impact, Allied health professional led interventions can have. We wanted to share the many creative ways allied health professionals are linking policy to practice in the areas of acute care and community care The narratives give a voice to the work of the allied health professionals and those we work with, showcasing how we can be “engaging, enabling and empowering”

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What next?

The personal narratives outlined in the three publications will contribute to the developing strategic AHP vision that directly links to Commitment 4 in Scotland’s current National Dementia Strategy.  With our partners we will consider how we spread the practice examples outlined in all three reports and enact the vision “Making sure nobody faces dementia alone”.

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What have been your top three highlight in doing this work?

  1. This is the first publication we have included our paramedical professionals who recently joined the “AHP family” in Scotland
  2. Working with a motivated and inspiring group of people who all said “yes” when invited to share their story
  3. The celebration and launch event of the three publications on the 15th December where we had the opportunity to say “thank you” to all our partners

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Let’s Talk About Dementia

We would welcome your comments on the publications and for you to share your “highlights” when you have had a look at the three reports?

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Allied Health Professionals Dementia Champions: Agents of Change


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Allied Health Professionals Delivering Post-Diagnostic Support: Living Well with Dementia


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Allied Health Professionals Delivering Integrated Care: Living Well with Community Support


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.

Further information on the publications:


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.


Five ideas & tips to enhance communication

Communication is central to our wellbeing: Five ideas & tips to enhance communication

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion it has taken place.”

George Bernard Shaw


We are all communicators, however working as a speech and language therapist  means that I have an enhanced level of interest in the process of communication.

Most of us are fortunate to be around people for at least some part of our day.  Imagine what it must be like to not have anyone to communicate with, or possibly worse, not have the ability to make yourself understood or understand what is being said?

In my work as a speech and language therapist when working with people with dementia, I often wonder if their struggles to communicate can be likened to my struggles to construct sentences in French.  I can sometimes produce meaningful utterances if you give me lots of time to respond but rarely quickly enough as part of a fluent conversation. This leaves me feeling frustrated, stupid, sad all at once.

Communication is central to our well being.

Communication plays a fundamental role in maintaining and developing relationships. It is a two way process. It generally involves a minimum of two people interacting in turn taking.  Each person has to be both an attentive listener as well as a talker. We have to check out or monitor that what we are saying is being registered and understood.

If one person finds communication difficult, the other person has to attempt to bridge the gap and do more of the work. We have learnt over the years that there are some specific techniques that improve the communication process with people with dementia.

However, we must never lose sight of the fact that everyone is an individual who would have had different styles and skills at communicating prior to the onset of dementia and communication techniques are aimed at generalities rather than specifics.

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In this the first of two blogs I am sharing with you some of my ideas and tips to enhance communication with five more to be shared in next weeks blog in “lets talk about dementia”


Five ideas & tips to enhance communication

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  1. It is not just about words.

Non verbal communication is understood more easily than verbal. Pay attention to your non verbal communication (tone of voice, facial expression, gesture etc) and monitor your conversational partners non verbal messages closely.

  1. Location, location, location.

Ensure the environment is conducive to good communication. This means good lighting, reduction of noise and other distractions. Is the person wearing their hearing aids, glasses? Make sure you have their attention when speaking to them.

  1. Get to the point.

Keep sentences short and simple. Make one point or statement, allow time for that to be digested before speaking again. Avoid chattering to fill the gaps.

  1. Message understood?

Check that the person has understood and re phrase if they have not. Write down for them what they have been told if they are still able to read. People often think that a person is understanding more than is the case. This is because they maybe latching onto some key words and non verbal cues not the language.

  1.  Less is often more.

As a conversational partner, accept you need to do more of the work but do not try to over compensate by chattering, even if you think it is about a topic they would have previously enjoyed. One or two words backed up by visual content, for example, and allowing plenty of time for a response will be of more benefit

We would love to hear from you.

  • What suggestions and comments can you add to my initial 5 ideas?
  • What ideas do you have to enable you keep talking to someone who wants to keep communicating?



Joy HarrisJoy Harris
SLT,Clinical Lead for Dementia, Lothian

I work in East and Midlothian Psychiatry of Old Age teams seeing people with communication and/ or swallowing problems from the point of diagnosis of Dementia, and at any stage throughout the patient journey as the need arises.

A snapshot of what an allied health professional can do for you

 “People with dementia will have the opportunity to be included in community life and meaningful activities as they wish.  All services will give people with dementia the support they need, wherever they are living, to continue to be involved in their ordinary activities such as exercise, involvement in music, dance, social events and religious activity and to become involved in new activities and experiences”

This is a direct quote from the Standards of Care for Dementia in Scotland (2011) and reminds us all that people with dementia can be involved in everyday activities, both old and new.


The standard also states “services will give people with dementia the support they need”. In Scotland we invited my allied health professionals colleagues to share with us what they can do to support someone with dementia.  In this blog I am sharing a “snapshot” of how 5 of the allied health professions describe their role when working with people with dementia and their carers, partners and families.

Who are we?

Allied health professionals are registered therapists who can help when people are worried about their memory, if a person has a diagnosis of dementia or if someone in the family has dementia. They offer information, advice and treatment tailored to individual needs. They are experts in rehabilitation, focusing on strengths and assisting people to stay connected to their community and remain in their home for as long as possible. In no more than 50 words this is what they say they can do for you if you have a diagnosis of dementia or are caring for someone with dementia:

  • Dietitian – will help you to eat well
  • Occupational therapist – will help you take part in social activities, hobbies and interests that are important to you.
  • Physiotherapist – will help with physical activity
  • Podiatrists – will help you look after your feet
  • Speech and language therapists – will help you maintain everyday conversations


How can a dietitian help?

A dietitian can assess, diagnose and treat diet and nutrition problems at an individual level.  Uniquely, they use the most up to date public health and scientific research on food, health and disease, which they translate into practical advice to help people make appropriate lifestyle and food choices.


How can an occupational therapists help?

The occupational therapist can help people to continue to do as much as they can in their daily lives, offering strategies to allow people to participate in social activities, hobbies and interests that are important to them. They understand the link between occupation and good health. They can advise people on small changes to the home environment to make life easier, recommending the right type of equipment to meet a person’s needs from memory equipment to kitchen equipment.


How can a physiotherapist help?

A physiotherapist can help if the person has difficulties with walking; experiencing falls or feel they are unable to access the activities they enjoy.   They can provide the person with advice on, or offer an exercise programme to improve strength and balance, equipment to help walking and help with accessing community services.


How can a podiatrist help?

Healthy, pain free feet are important in maintaining mobility and enabling people to engage in a range of activities and be an active member of the community. NHS Podiatry services are available for people who have a foot problem or have a medical condition requiring podiatric intervention. (Personal foot care such as toenail cutting is not provided by NHS Podiatry services).


How can a speech and language therapist help?

Speech and language therapists are experts in communication and interaction and help people who have difficulty with everyday conversations. They are also experts in eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties. The speech and language therapist’s aim is always to enable a person to participate to their full potential in their chosen activities.

We are collating this information, with a description of how to access these professions into a leaflet that will be available in the Alzheimer Scotland resources centres, on our mini bus, available from our link workers and will be in our offices throughout Scotland.  However we are really interested to know, when living with dementia or caring for someone with dementia “what matters to you and how can we help?”

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.