Lead Organisation: BCUHB
The AHP dementia team consists of four professions (Speech and Language Therapy, Physiotherapy, Dietetics and Occupational Therapy) combining into a service to provide person centred interventions for those recently diagnosed with dementia.
AHPs can all help in different ways to improve the quality of life for people living with dementia. All AHPs will most probably meet someone living with dementia at some point in their professional career, but for some such as Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Dietitians and Speech and Language Therapists, working with people living with dementia will be the prime focus of their role.
The AHP team in Wrexham has supported over 91 people living with dementia and their families/carers in the past 12 months (Over 250 people in total). We have enabled people to manage some of the Behavioural and Psychological symptoms of dementia despite the restrictions in place due to the COVID 19 pandemic. The team has provided virtual sessions and education support to families to overcome the difficulty faced by the reduction in home visits. The lockdown restrictions have also increased the need for people living with dementia to be managed at home without the links to daycare services, dementia support groups or wider family support. Our service has focused on maintaining independence where appropriate and provide strategies for families/carers in challenging times. The challenge has been to understand what services are available and how we can provide a bridge to when the services resume.
The AHP team has supported referrals to other professionals quicker and effectively. This enables the person living with dementia and their families/carers non-pharmacological support from a specialist dementia AHP in their own home in a timely manner.
The AHP Approach provides specialist input to maintain five keys areas of wellbeing:
- Maximising physical wellbeing
- Maximising psychological wellbeing
- Enhancing daily living
- Adapting everyday environments
- Supporting families and carers as equal partners
- Each person living with dementia is offered person centred assessment and interventions dependent on their personal circumstances, life history and goals.
How can AHPs help?
Speech and Language Therapist
- Assess communication to find out what is working well, in addition to areas where a person living with dementia might benefit from some more help
- Provide personalised tips and techniques to help the person living with dementia express themselves better
- Increase confidence with talking, so that you can get the most out of conversations again
- Provide advice to family and friends so that they know how best to help the person living with dementia communicate with them
- Support individuals and families to lead a healthy lifestyle
- Provide education for weight management, healthy eating and portion size control
- Help to reduce the risk of weight related co-morbidities such as cardiovascular disease, stroke and some cancers
- Provide information regarding reduced appetites, taste changes and meal preparation, to help improve appetite and dietary intake
- Provide diabetes advice, including carbohydrate awareness education, carbohydrate portion control and healthy eating
- Help to prevent unintentional weight loss, muscle wastage and nutritional deficiencies
- Support with disordered eating
- Advice and education on texture modified foods and thickened fluids for individuals and their families/carers.
- Education and advice on staying hydrated
- Assess and provide interventions to assist with joint pain or musculoskeletal problem affecting mobility
- Assessment for walking aid and/or strength and balance exercises as mobility reduces
- Assess and provide interventions to reduce falls at home and in the community (even if just at risk of falls.)
- Provide education to families and carers on mobility needs and how to engage in exercise plans to maintain mobility.
- Assess functional changes to identify current needs/cognitive functional abilities
- Assess the home environment for adaptations or aids that could maintain independence and carer wellbeing
- Explore lifestyle changes and set related goals to support wellbeing
- Maintenance of skills to support level of independence (e.g. anxiety management, cooking, budgeting, self-care etc.)
- Find ways to make daily activities easier or more enjoyable (e.g. graded exposure)
- Exploration of Life history to enable reminiscence and engagement opportunities.