As two 3rd year occupational students from Aberdeen, the prospect of completing a role emerging placement in an acute hospital in Dumfries (DGRI) was daunting. As students we are used to being told what to do and how to do things so when we were allocated this role emerging placement, we both were thrown into the unknown. Thankfully, the learning we have undertaken have not only fulfilled, but surpassed our placement goals and expectations
One of our proudest accomplishments of this placement is the creation of our This is Me poster (TIM). This is Me is an A3 laminated piece of paper which has seven questions on it which are designed to facilitate person-centred interactions with all people entering a patient’s room.
On week one of our placement, we were presented with a piece of work created by Pauline Nairn (deputy charge nurse) and Mandy Cowan (Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Advisor). They had collaborated before the pandemic, as part of Pauline’s project from the Dementia champion programme in 2019/2020 and designed the first draft of what would become the “This is Me” poster. They took inspiration from the Getting To Know Me national document but unfortunately, due to the pandemic and the business of life, they didn’t have the time to work on it any further. We graciously took this idea and put our heads together on how we would make this happen!
We both dived deep into the world of poster design, font, colour contrast, size and language. We wanted to ensure that our poster was the most accessible that it could be and inclusion was always at the forefront of our minds. We tested our first draft with five patients on the ward to identify any changes that may have been necessary. For example, we originally had nine questions on our poster, however, after many patients left them blank, we decided they were unnecessary and deleted them. Similarly, we also identified that the wording of some boxes was misleading and difficult to understand. These changes were quickly rectified through collaboration with Mandy and Pauline. We also worked with Maureen Huggins, a ward volunteer and National Dementia Carer Action Network representative who gave us her input as someone who is highly experienced engaging with people living with dementia. After a lot of trial and error, research and a temperamental laptop, we finally had the completed “This is Me” form ready to be put in every patient’s room on the ward.
Since its introduction onto the ward, we have received many positive comments on the effectives of the “This is Me” poster. Firstly, and a surprising outcome of “This is Me” for us, is the positive impact it has had on the family members of the patients. One family were amazed at the detail we were able to obtain from the patient due to his communication difficulties and advanced dementia. They were delighted to see that he engaged with the poster and was still able to communicate. This helped us understand how using the “This is Me” poster does facilitate meaningful conversation and has the potential to improve the wellbeing of not only the patient but also their family members.
Secondly, and possible most importantly is the feedback from the patients themselves. Of course, there are the select few who choose not to engage with the poster or those who are too unwell to, however, most patients have reported enjoying the poster. The “This is Me” boxes prompted conversations around their families, childhood and fondest memories. We have found that completing the “This is Me” poster has given people a sense of purpose and accomplishment. If we mention that we are students working on a project, a lot of patients are very eager to chip in and complete the poster with us. They appear to gain a real sense of joy for helping people out!
After nine weeks of creating “This is Me”, implementing it on the ward and seeing it be utilised by the staff, the time has come for us to leave “This is Me” in the very capable hands of the DGRI staff. We have begun planning how “This is Me” will continue to be used in the ward after we leave. We have listed our top tips for completing the form which have been shared around the ward. We encourage all staff, volunteers and family to complete the poster whenever they can.
Top Tips for filling “This is Me” poster
- Introduce yourself and the purpose behind TIM
- Use prompts, e.g., give examples of types of answers
- Engage in the conversation, it’s not a Q&A!
- Incorporate the TIM into the conversation, keep it natural
- Ask for consent to hang on patient’s wall
- Not every box needs to be filled- it’s the patient’s choice
- Fill in TIM after conversation- take notes on scrap paper
We also hope that “This is Me” will be accessible to more areas of the hospital. For instance, two other ward areas have already shown interest in the poster and we plan to broaden this scope even further.
We aspire to inspire other people to utilise This is Me in their area of work.
We are so proud of the poster that we have created and feel grateful to have been given the opportunity to make a real, tangible difference on the ward. The “This is Me” posters have enabled us to create therapeutic relationships with patients, communicate with individuals living with dementia and learn about the importance of person-centred care. Who knows, maybe we will see “This is Me” poster still being used in years to come, let’s hope so!
Thank you for reading our blog, we appreciate your time. We would like to thank our practice educator, Wendy Chambers (Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Consultant), Pauline Nairn and Mandy Cowan for their continued support with the TIM over the last nine weeks.
Alison McKeon @alisonmckeonRGU and Katherine Kelly @KKellyOTRGU
3rd year Occupational Therapy students from Robert Gordon University
Title: Finding the ‘me’ in Dementia
Sourced From: letstalkaboutdementia.wordpress.com/2022/02/03/finding-the-me-in-dementia/
Published Date: Thu, 03 Feb 2022 07:00:00 +0000