Occupational Therapy in Dementia Care

My name is Rachel Johnson and I am an Occupational Therapist working in Cragside Court Older Persons inpatient assessment unit, where I currently help older persons with dementia to complete everyday activities that are essential to their health and wellbeing.

I qualified as an Occupational Therapist in 2006 and started working for the QE on the Occupational Therapy Rotation, in which I spent six to eight months in different areas of practice developing skills and specialist interests.  From this, I then took a static post on Ward 23 dual diagnosis ward in approximately 2008 where I worked with patients to promote functional independence in activities of daily living and timely and effective discharges in to the community, with a brief period of community follow up.

Following this, an opportunity came up for a Secondment post into Cragside Court, where I could put my passion to caring for older persons with dementia and improving service and experience for patients to good use. Within this secondment, my role has evolved greatly and I feel very fortunate to be working within a great team who all strive towards excellent patient care.

To help support patients and their families, I have supported in the development of new initiatives and strategies so that they can continue to do activities that are meaningful and remain as independent as possible. This includes regular breakfast groups, which helps patients to maintain abilities in planning, process and sequencing and promote functional level.  I also use a variety of therapeutic and assessment tools which include life history profiles which aim to help patients to reminisce on memories, and the patient activity level assessment which helps guide carers and staff on the best techniques in engagement of patients. I also help provide support to the activities facilitators across the hospital who help organise therapeutic activities such as pet therapy, cream teas, film nights and tea parties.

Alongside the high skilled nursing team, I assess and facilitate discharges, support and promote the multidisciplinary team working to ensure patients remain comfortable and safe in their discharge destination; this includes adapting their home environment, information to care staff on how to best engage the patient, follow up visits and providing information and access to carers and families on services available within the community.  

Another important part of my role is to also support carers and families; a particular project I have been working on is establishing a carer’s hub, where carers can access information and support they require so they can be fully educated on how they can support someone with dementia.

I really enjoy my role, in particular getting to interact with patients on a daily basis and seeing how the projects and services benefit them and their carers. I also really enjoy carrying out life story work and allowing this to support personalised care. I feel privileged to work as an Occupational Therapist within this unit and I look forward to continuing to find new ways to help enable people to live their life as independently as possible.

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