Therapeutic groups can have many benefits if they are well considered and maintain a person-centred approach (Beynon-Pindar, 2017). Enabling meaningful activity for those with dementia will prevent occupational deprivation (Harmer & Orrell, 2008), minimize boredom (Welton, 2013) and enhance pleasure and quality of life (Vernooij-Dassen, 2007). Groupwork is a dynamic and cost-effective tool in Occupational Therapy practice, for both intervention and evaluation (Creek & Lougher, 2011).
Co-production is the collaboration between people who run a service and the people who they support. Co-production gives service users, family members and carers more control in the care and support they receive (SCIE, 2015). Co-production acknowledges that the individuals using services have knowledge and experience of how services can be improved – recognizing people as assets and equal partnerships (Boyle, Slay & Stephens, 2010).
I recently started my role-emerging placement, where I am working with Older Adults, the majority of whom have Dementia. The task / expectation was for me to plan, implement and evaluate a group with this client group. I have spent the first few weeks scoping the placement, getting to know the client group and understanding their needs and preferences (the essential first step of planning a group!)
It is important to consider that the carers of those with Dementia are also the client. Interventions for dementia affect family carers as well as the client themselves, indicating that clinical decision-making needs to be informed by the impact on carers’ quality of life too (Oyebode et al., 2019).
To ensure carers can fully engage in providing dementia care, they deserve to receive support and have their needs addressed. Looking after family carers can be done by maximizing their abilities and minimizing their burden (Wesson et al., 2017).
Unfortunately, due to the current situation (COVID-19), things have had to change in terms of the placement – I am now going to be completing written detailed plan of what I would have done. I am passionate as ever about working with people with dementia and their carers.
I am so interested to hear your thoughts and experiences of planning and implementing groups – whichever client group it has been with – all knowledge and advice is welcomed!
Thank you to Margaret (firstname.lastname@example.org) for our in-depth discussions and your help in writing this, it is very much appreciated!
- To start as an OT, what skills do you believe are essential in researching, planning and delivering a successful group?
- How do you ensure your groups are different from other non OT led groups that may be being delivered in a service?
- How have you noticed participating in group work can make a difference with people with dementia and/or their carers?
- How did you measure the difference being part of a group has meant to people?
- Meaningful activity’ is at the heart of what we do, what has been the content of the sessions when you have delivered groups for either people with dementia and/or their carers?
- To finish in general what are the positives of delivering group work with people who have Dementia and/or their carers?
Beynon-Pindar, C. (2017). Group work in Occupational Therapy: Generic Versus Specialist Practice. Occupational Therapy Evidence in Practice for Mental Health, 59.
Boyle, D., Slay, J., & Stephens, L. (2010). Public Services Inside Out: Putting Co-production into Practice. London: New Economics Fooundation.
Creek, J., & Lougher, L. (2011). Occupational therapy and mental health. Elsevier Health Sciences.
Finlay, L (2002). Groupwork in J. Creek (ed) Occupational Therapy and Mental Health. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone
Harmer, B. J., & Orrell, M. (2008). What is meaningful activity for people with dementia living in care homes? A comparison of the views of older people with dementia, staff and family carers. Aging and Mental health, 12(5), 548-558.
Oyebode, J. R., Pini, S., Ingleson, E., Megson, M., Horton, M., Clare, L., … & Wright, P. (2019). Development of an item pool for a needs-based measure of quality of life of carers of a family member with Dementia. The Patient-Patient-Centered Outcomes Research, 12(1), 125-136.
SCIE. (2015). Co-production in Social Care: What is it and how to do it.
Vernooij-Dassen, M. J. F. J. (2007). Meaningful activities for people with dementia.
Wesson, V., Chiu, M., Feldman, R., Nelles, L. J., & Sadavoy, J. (2017). Dementia and caregiving.