By Pernilla Edström, Unit Manager from Ekdalagardens Dementhia Center in Sweden
In December, I visited Lerwick, the main town in Shetland, to get a sense of how they do things in Scotland. I was shadowing Ann Williamson, a Dementia Advisor, who works for Alzheimer Scotland. Ann and her colleague Laura work with people with dementia, and their relatives, who live at home. Ann and Laura work to creat social activities for people with dementia to help them live at home for longer.
Ann and Laura work together with two Dementia Nurse Consultants, Alan and Stephen, who come to the various activities and are on hand to give medical advice and have conversations with relatives. This means attendees do not need to visit their GPs whenever they have a dementia-related question. Alan and Stephen contact psychiatrists and geriatric nurses in Aberdeen via a video link.
Alan and Stephen, as well as Ann and Laura, are also involved in research in Lulea-RemoAge, in Sweden, which deals with innovative welfare technology such as supervisory cameras.
One of the biggest differences between Sweden and Scotland is that most people with dementia still live at home, within the community. I was also very impressed by the level of support on offer from Alzheimer Scotland and Dementia Nurse Consultants Alan and Stephen.
The efforts of Alzheimer Scotland to ensure people with dementia live in their own homes for longer, and the levels of contact and support available for relatives is something we could introduce where I work in Harryda Municipality. I think the efficient way that Alzheimer Scotland work with doctors by a video link is also something we could adopt.
I am the first Swedish person to become a Dementia Friend, which Alzheimer Scotland provides to people who are interested in raising their dementia awareness. I have also been interviewed by BBC Shetland Radio, which was an interesting experience!
I will definitely keep in touch with Ann, Laura, Alan and Stephen to exchange ideas, approaches and experiences.