The role of an Occupational Therapist in dementia

What is dementia?

 

“Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders, that is, conditions affecting the brain.”

Dementia UK (2020)

“Dementia is a neurologically degenerative disease which affects the normal working of the brain. Approximately 7000,000 people in the UK have some kind of dementia.”

Mental Health First Aid 

 

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy (OT) is a science degree-based, health and social care profession, regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council. Occupational therapy takes a “whole-person approach” to both mental and physical health and wellbeing and enables individuals to achieve their full potential.”  

Royal College of Occupational Therapists (2020)

What can an Occupational Therapist from Home Independence Occupational Therapy Ltd offer?

Personalised assessment at home

The Occupational Therapist will gather information relating to the client needs and abilities, listening to the perspectives of carers, loved ones and significant others through an assessment

  • The initial assessment focuses on the clients’ overall ability and their ability to complete everyday activities such as having a shower and getting dressed. The home environment is explored, and risks and solutions are identified.
Participating in meaningful activities
  • The Pool Activity Level (PAL) framework is utilised to understand the best approach when introducing activities, leading to an understanding of a general level of ability for the individual with dementia. 
  • This information helps the Occupational Therapist and the carers, loved ones and significant others to communicate effectively and to grade intervention accordingly.
  • A leisure and interest checklist is completed to identify hobbies and activities that are meaningful to the client.
  • The Bradford Well-Being Profile to assess how people with dementia are feeling through their behaviour.

Step-by-step action plan

A bespoke action plan is created to identify ways to reduce risks with practical solutions. A further reablement program is offered to maintain skills and independence for as long as possible.

Reablement program

Goals set together with the client and carers, leading to the creation of a person-centred program.  The goals are achieved through meaningful activities (as identified in the leisure and interest checklist) with therapeutic benefits highlighted. The activities are graded according to the needs of the individual and the environment.

Intervention

There are a range of interventions available, and can include, but are not restricted to the following:

  • Reminiscence, facilitating the use of the long-term memory enhancing positive self-worth
    Meaningful leisure activities
  • Relaxation, including aromatherapy scents
  • Music
  • Singing
  • Sensory activities
  • Leisure and hobbies including jigsaw puzzles, exercise, art, and craft, sewing and knitting, baking, writing, gardening, and reading

Environmental modifications

  • Falls prevention focus
  • Assistive technology including bed sensors and chair detectors
  • Minor adaptations such as, the assessment of grab rails and temporary ramps
  • Major adaptations, such as changing a standard bathroom into a level access shower room for wheelchair accessibility
  • Specialist equipment, such as a shower chair
  • Moving and handling advice and equipment demonstration

Summary

The Occupational Therapist will adopt a person-centred approach to tailor make all interventions to meet the needs of the client and the carer, taking on a flexible approach.  They will evaluate the intervention to ensure that needs are met and review their input on a regular basis. The interventions take the form of meaningful activities that have a powerful connection with the client and therefore can enhance motivation, engagement and enhance emotional wellbeing too.

Upcoming plans

Pet Therapy
  • To provide specialist Occupational Therapy involvement at the Live Well Dementia Care & Activity Club, Sapcote, Leicestershire.
  • To arrange involvement from Dementia UK to share information about their services to support carers.
  • To become a Dementia Friends Champion through the Alzheimer’s Society.
  • Take part in further Dementia Awareness learning through Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE)
  • To provide pet therapy with a fully trained golden retriever with specialist therapy dog training to help clients and carers.
  • I am in the process of becoming a Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) facilitator. CST has been proven to help clients with dementia. CST is recommended by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) for everybody living with a diagnosis of mild to moderate dementia.

If your loved one is having difficulty with their memory and it is impacting on their ability to carry out everyday activities, please telephone me on 07341265564 or complete the contact form. I would love to share the many ways in which I can help you and your loved one.

Reflection from a recent webinar led by Dementia Adventure

I thoroughly enjoyed the webinar led by Dementia Adventure titled “Dementia Skills”. The session explained symptoms of dementia and a brief explanation relating to the physical changes that can take place.  Ideas were shared to support clients, carers and professionals. The teaching style was welcoming and friendly – a thoroughly enjoyable session. I enjoyed sharing my experiences and contributing to the session. Thank you Dementia Adventure! 

About Dementia Adventure

Exercise, fresh air and stimulation can help people retain their skills and interests for longer, improve wellbeing and have a positive impact on the lives of people with dementia and their carers/families.  Once diagnosed, people with dementia are at risk of being indoors too much of the time resulting in an unnecessary decline in their physical, emotional and social well-being. Dementia Adventure is a multi-award winning charity based in Essex but working nationally. We believe that, with the right support, people living with dementia can continue to do the things they have always enjoyed: get outdoors, remain active, keep connected to friends, family and their community and retain a sense of adventure in their lives. Dementia Adventure provides fully supported dementia holidays and training for family, friends, staff and organisations supporting people living with dementia.  Visit www.dementiaadventure.co.uk to find out more.  Dementia Adventure is a Registered Charity (CIO) 1163163 (England & Wales)  

Update on 06th August 2020: I have passed the Cognitive Stimulation Therapy course and feel proud to share that I am a Cognitive Stimulation Therapy facilitator. I am looking to open a Cognitive Stimulation Group when COVID-19 regulations allow. In the meantime I will look into offering individual CST sessions with clients in their own homes.

Copyright (2020) Home Independence Occupational Therapy Ltd. A Leicestershire based company