In 2020, Sophia Dickinson, an independent occupational therapist, joined our online ‘Thinking Differently About Dementia’ Dementia Skills Session. Sophia regularly works with people living with dementia and was looking to enhance her knowledge and understanding of dementia so she could offer more rounded support to her clients.
“There are lots of my clients who have reduced mobility, experience of falls, and also a diagnosis of dementia. So, there are physical medical issues with a diagnosis of dementia as well. As a therapist, you can look at the fall prevention and the environmental modification, but you can’t do that in isolation. You need to work with the person.”
Sophia liked the fact that the webinar was aimed at both professionals and carers. She felt the mixed audience made it more welcoming for her, enabling her to contribute, but also listen to carers’ questions and concerns.
“The webinar was pitched perfectly to help me to refresh my existing knowledge. I enjoyed being able to contribute and it was lovely to be valued for my professional experience. It was great to hear from the carers point of view.”
Sophia liked the approach and the tone of the webinar, commenting,
“Debbie, the lady that was leading the webinar, had a wonderful approach. She had a sense of caring, compassion, nurturing. This was conveyed in the way she spoke to us, which was fuelled with empathy.”
Since the training, Sophia feels she now has the confidence to be more creative in her work. She is supporting families to find ways to not correct the person with dementia all the time. For example, she suggested to a daughter who has power of attorney for her dad’s financial affairs to allow him to write a cheque for a tradesman.
Although the cheque did not need to be processed, it was the importance of empowering the client to feel good. Writing cheques was an identifiable part of the client’s identity and made him feel good. He was always in charge of the family finances and worked as an Accountant and it was meaningful for him.
“It’s about how the person feels. This is what I was able to relate to the family. Just how much of a difference that makes.”
Sophia also feels it has given her much more of an awareness of encouraging clients to get outside. She is now encouraging her clients to go out for short periods and giving them advice on how to make that happen, Covid-19 permitting. She now identifies clients whom she thinks would benefit from getting out beyond the home environment and supports carers to identify barriers to getting out and ways to overcome them.
“This gentleman, he’s travelled, he’s done lots of hiking… and the outdoors is actually an integral part of who he is. His present goal is to go out more in the garden, weather permitting. His wife said, ‘I’d love to pack some sandwiches and a flask and go for a picnic by the river’. So I looked at her and said: ‘You can absolutely do that. Do you have a wheelchair? It might be worth taking it for the carer to push behind just in case and for peace of mind.’ This is all part of the reablement programme that I’m creating for them.”
Our Dementia Skills Sessions connect you with experienced dementia trainers and dementia supporters to learn how to think differently about dementia, while receiving practical guidance to empower you in your role. The programme covers a range of subjects to help people at home, in the workplace, in care homes, and people providing outdoor or nature-based activities or wanting their organisation to be more inclusive.
If you are a volunteer or staff member, these sessions may inspire you to consider further training to upskill others across your organisation or project, create more inclusive and accessible services or set up a nature-based programme for people living with dementia. We can provide you with tailored training and support for your organisation and team.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the session. It 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!” [An extract from Sophia’s blog Occupational Therapy for Clients with Dementia]
Are you an organisation, member of staff or a volunteer who already supports people living with dementia or would you like to know more about creating inclusive services and outdoor experiences?
Our team of experienced trainers deliver a range of dementia training and support, grounded in our ethos of thinking differently about dementia by ensuring people living with dementia access the health and wellbeing benefits of connecting with nature and the outdoors.
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