A local NHS Trust and the University of Lincoln have joined up to provide better care for dementia patients and raise awareness among future nurses about the importance of occupational therapy when rehabilitating people suffering with dementia.
Carol Duff has been appointed a consultant occupational therapist and senior lecturer; the post is jointly funded by Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LPFT) and the University of Lincoln.
Carol will share her time between clinical work at Dementia and Specialist Older Adults Service and the University’s School of Health and Social Care.
She will concentrate on work around how sensory stimulation affects people living with dementia, and will offer a valuable occupational therapy perspective to undergraduate and postgraduate students at the University.
Carol said: “Each person has a different tolerance of noise, light, taste or movement. For someone suffering from dementia being in an environment that is over-stimulating may increase their agitation and anxiety.
“Equally, if the surroundings are under-stimulating, it may cause people to be more withdrawn and passive.
“As a part of my role I will work with other occupational therapists to adapt individual treatments and environments and assist dementia patients and their carers.
“I will be also teaching future nurses and social care workers about occupational therapy, dementia, how to support and communicate with patients to ensure their needs are met, and how to cope with any challenging behaviour.
“It is vital that healthcare professionals know how to work together and are aware of how occupational therapy can help people in their rehabilitation.”
Additionally, Carol will be involved in the Trust programmes on wellbeing for people living in care homes and she will be working on research projects about people with dementia living in rural communities.
Steve Roberts, head of service – dementia and specialist older adults, LPFT, said: “LPFT’s partnership with the University of Lincoln will ensure that our occupational therapists have access to a high level of professional expertise, advice and mentoring which will bring real benefits for patients.
“With Carol’s experience we hope to incorporate innovations and latest research about dementia and occupational therapy to improve our current practice.”
Principal lecturer at the University of Lincoln, Dr Paul Linsley, said: “As people are living longer, there are increasing numbers of elderly in acute hospitals and that means there are also increasing number of patients who have a diagnosis of dementia alongside any physical illnesses.
“It is vital that general nurses understand dementia and Carol’s involvement in our nursing programmes will provide an invaluable occupational therapy and specialist dementia insight.”