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Ness Dementia Hubs from a student Occupational Therapists perspective

Siobhan has recently completed her 3rd and final placement with us here at The Ness Care Group and will soon qualify as an Occupational Therapist. As part of Occupational Therapy Week #OTWeek23 she wanted to share her experience of the importance of engaging in occupations.

I have really enjoyed my time at The Ness, getting to know people, their life experiences and supporting them to participate in activities that are meaningful to them has been incredible to witness. However, as the first student to undertake a placement at The Ness, there were some initial challenges, but with the support of a wonderful mentor and team, I was able to overcome and learn from these experiences.

The best part has been when someone has been hesitant to attend a session and then they leave with a smile on their face, having had a nice day. That is what has made this placement worthwhile. Alongside learning more about Dementia and working with a team of dedicated people. It’s amazing to witness the passion the staff have at The Ness for supporting individuals to live a full life.

Occupational Therapists play a vital role in supporting individuals living with Dementia and share very similar values to us here at The Ness. OTs help to bridge the connection between where someone is and where they want to go, proving that with the right tools and home adaptations anyone can live well with Dementia.

And for what we do at The Ness, well, we support people to maintain their cognitive function, social engagement and independence to enhance wellbeing and quality of life, whilst building confidence to re-engage in those occupations that may have been lost for whatever reason.

Interested in becoming an Occupational Therapist or finding out more? Amy, our Occupational Therapy Lead is here to answer any questions you may have [email protected]

Q&A with…Amy Williams

Q&As from Amy Williams, The Ness Hub at Exmouth Manager.

How did you get involved in Dementia Care?

I had my final OT placement on Devon Partnership Trust’s only organic ward – Belvedere. I spent three months here and really enjoyed working with this client group.

What do you love most about working for The Ness?

The clients, their stories and finding things that make them smile!

Tell me a memory that makes you smile whilst you have been working here…

Too many to tell – they happen on a daily basis. We are very lucky.

What does a typical work day look like for you?

Where do I begin?! There is no typical day, and that’s why I love it. Every day brings something unique, as everyone who enters our doors is unique. It definitely keeps you on your toes!

What is your personal motto or mantra?

Be kind. Always.

How would your family describe you in 3 words?

Never you mind!

You can read more of our Q&A’s over on our blog here or head over to Facebook for the latest updates and news from our centres.

Q&A with…Lisa Ward

Q&As from Lisa Ward, The Ness Outreach Manager.

How did you get involved in Dementia Care?

Around a 10 years ago (a whole decade), I began my career in dementia care. My first job was at a residential home that catered to individuals suffering from this disease. Initially, I was unsure why I was drawn to dementia care. However, over time, it became evident that I was passionate about learning more about the disease and supporting those affected by it. My goal was to educate individuals about dementia and ensure that those living with it are able to lead fulfilling lives.

What do you love most about working for The Ness?

We’re not your average team at The Ness – we’re more like a big, quirky family! We take pride in our cozy culture where everyone is treated like a VIP and we put people before tasks. Our approach may be a little different, but we’re pretty sure it’s the secret sauce to our success. Supporting individuals and learning about their stories is a gratifying experience for me, and I’m sure it’s the same for the rest of the team.

Tell me a memory that makes you smile whilst you have been working here…

Thinking of one is challenging but there’s this moment that never fails to brighten my day. I remember helping a lady achieve something she thought was out of reach. Seeing her face light up with happiness as she nailed it was simply unforgettable. It’s moments like these that make life worthwhile!

What does a typical work day look like for you?

I’m a jack-of-all-trades! I can either be in the office, nailing down schedules and paperwork, or I can be in the field, supporting folks to live their best lives.

What is your personal motto or mantra?

My approach is empathetic, patient, and caring. I strive to nourish the spirit and validate emotions, meeting people where they are.

How would your family describe you in 3 words?

Outspoken, caring, thoughtful

You can read more of our Q&A’s over on our blog here or head over to Facebook for the latest updates and news from our centres.

Q&A with…Anne Bilham

Q&As from Anne Bilham, The Ness at Teignmouth Manager.

How did you get involved in Dementia Care?

I first became involved in dementia care when I became a manager of a residential care home in Banbury, Oxfordshire in 1991. Since then, I have worked in various health and social care settings, private providers, housing associations as well has a number of charities. I have been responsible for managing a range of services from traditional day services to fostering type services where the older person with dementia lives with a family.

What do you love most about working for The Ness?

I’m naturally curious and my role at the Ness means I get to spend time talking to guests finding out about their lives. I love being a leader to a dedicated group of staff.

Tell me a memory that makes you smile whilst you have been working here…

Singing Nina Simone – Ain’t Got No – I Got Life, with a group of ladies. Especially the line, I got my boobies.

What does a typical work day look like for you?

Catching up with all members of the team to make sure everyone is feeling confident and in a position to offer the best service we can. Greeting and making guests welcome. Office work. Having lunch with the guests, chatting about how things are going, things they would like to see, things that make them happy. Office work. Saying goodbye and helping with tidying the centre.

What is your personal motto or mantra?

Hear people, value and empower them and let the magic happen.

How would your family describe you in 3 words?

Naturally happy, always finding solutions, positive.

You can read more of our Q&A’s over on our blog here or head over to Facebook for the latest updates and news from our centres.

How we prove the impact of our therapy using the FIM-FAM Impact Measured Tool

What do we do at The Ness Care Group?

Here at The Ness Care Group we support those individual’s living with dementia, or concerned about their cognitive health, as well as their families and care-givers, in communities across Devon. As a specialist cognitive health organisation, we offer a variety of services designed to improve and/or maintain the physical and mental health of those who attend. Empowering them to live well for longer with dementia.

Use of Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST)

In order to support this mission, we champion the use of Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST), which is proven to slow the progression of dementia and increase an individual’s quality of life. CST is recommended by NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence), as a dementia therapy which can be used to support an individual’s functional ability and promote wellbeing. We use this, alongside a variety of other activities and therapies, across our services.

How we measure the impact of our treatment

How we measure the impact of our treatment. As an organisation we are unique in using an NHS validated impact measurement tool to track the changes in someone’s disease progression and prove the impact of our therapies. We use an impact measurement system called The FIMFAM Impact Measurement Tool; this is an NHS validated global assessment tool which records an individual’s functional independence in the context of their disability.  FIM-FAM focuses on an individual’s physical function, alongside both their cognitive and psycho-social function, producing an overall score.

The process of assessment

At the first assessment, an individual is given a baseline score, which all other subsequent scores are tracked against. This helps us to monitor and record the impact our therapy has on an individual’s decline and make comparisons against the predicted progression of the disease. For each session an individual attends, a FIM-FAM score is created by the facilitator. With weekly data points collated for each individual, as shown in each of the graphs. We have case studies of people that The Ness have supported and monitored over a period of time using the FIM-FAM tool.  You will also see a sample Impact Measurement Data Sheet. This shows how the facilitators will decide upon a score based on a series of functional independence measurement questions. The scores from each functional assessment are added together to produce a composite score.

See case studies

How it has helped us tailor our support

Using FIM-FAM scores has helped us to:

  1. Provide statistical representation and explanation of changes to and/or improvements in an individual’s function.
  2. Identify trends in the data and inform families when we notice these changes so the right care and support can be added
  3. Monitor the progression of the individual against that of the disease.
  4. Tailor our sessions to support each individual’s needs.

This combination of clinical assessment, evidence based therapy and the use of a validated measurement tool makes us a unique dementia organisation across the UK. Breaking new ground in helping those in the community to live fully and independently for as long as possible.

To find out more about the services we offer or for a free complimentary consultation, contact our friendly team.

Choosing Dementia Activities

Activities within Dementia – How to choose the right activity

Last month I wrote about the 4 guiding tips for running activities for those living with memory loss and this is the next blog in a series on activities in dementia care.  In the last article, I mentioned that pushing someone you are related to into an activity that they may not usually do or neither of you enjoys (like chair exercises or flower arranging) will result in refusal and occasionally an argument, so choosing the right activity is hugely important.  In this article I am going to talk through how to choose a stimulating dementia activity that you can do away from a dementia day care centre, that will be enjoyable and appreciated by both parties.

Dementia activities at the Ness Care Group

What We Do At The Ness Day Care Centre

At The Ness dementia day care centre we split our treatment groups into small groups of 4/5 people.  Each group is paired according to their cognitive ability and according (as much as possible) to their interests.  We use a planet system with those in Venus capable of the most complex activities and those in Saturn managing only simple, often sensory actions.  This is important as there is no point in encouraging someone living with dementia to complete a 500-piece puzzle if that person can no longer imagine the final picture and hold the pieces.

Step 1 to creating an activity for a loved one with dementia or memory loss

So the first step is understanding what someone believes they can still achieve.  I’ve framed that sentence carefully because the point is NOT what the person with dementia can still do but rather what that individual believes they can still achieve.  If your husband/father used to be the person who fixed the house, made shelves, and did all general DIY, he might still believe he can do those jobs. It is worth investing in some wood, glue, wires, car engines, garage tools, etc, and doing an activity based around DIY.  Remember the end result is unimportant but the pleasure in doing something together is huge and if you can also praise and say ‘thank you, how useful!’ then you are also building a sense of self-worth/self-esteem so crucial for someone living with dementia.  This is a mantra we use at our dementia day care centres, and we always see our dementia patients smiling and enjoying themselves. So choose an activity that fits someone’s own sense of ability and an activity that allows them to feel they have achieved something.

Step 2 to creating an activity for a loved one with dementia or memory loss

The second step is to choose an activity that links with a past hobby, interest, work, holiday, or memory.  Once again the end result is not important – so if they used to love to sew or knit but can no longer hold the needle or understand the pattern, bringing out a collection of sewing materials, pictures, old material, the history of how sewing changed in the 1950s, anything that will stimulate reminiscence and encourage conversation, possibly laughter, also it has a sensory aspect, a visual aspect and an opportunity to praise.  Or your father’s work took him to foreign countries and allowed him to meet different cultures, an activity based around travel, smells, pictures, objects, photos, and history books would bring great pleasure and encourage memories from the distant past.  Choose an activity that is linked to a past experience or pleasure.  

Notice in both examples I mention touch, sight, and smell, I’m a big believer in multi-sensory activity.  Memories are often linked to smell, sound or sight rather than conversation. 

Two simple steps in preparing for a stimulating activity away from a dementia day care centre, however, remember that in working with those with memory loss it is the action, not the results that should bring pleasure (the correct answer to the quiz or crossword is irrelevant).  The goal is both stimulation and an increase in self-esteem.

In the next blog, we will delve into some specific activities that you can do at home, and outside of dementia day care centres for those living with mild to moderate memory loss.

Get dementia respite care at The Ness

If you need some support in running activities for a loved one living with dementia or memory loss, then learn more about our dementia day care centres and dementia support services. 

Get a complimentary consultation to discover how we can provide dementia help for you and your loved one by completing our online form, or calling us on 01626 774 799



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