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OT student placement with dementia team proves successful

18 November 2020


The James Paget’s Dementia Care team are continuing to raise awareness of the work they do and have recently provided a new placement opportunity for an Occupational Therapy student – the first time this has been offered.

Dementia Team OT Placement1a

Jo Beaumont (centre) with Dulcine Carney (left) and Ali Thayne (right).


Joanne Beaumont, a third-year Occupational Therapy (OT) student at the University of East Anglia, recently completed a six-week placement with the team, learning more about their work and the support they provide to our patients who have a dementia diagnosis. 

During the placement, part of a new learning concept called Long Arm Support, Jo was supported by Senior Occupational Therapists Dulcine Carney and Emily Leeks. 

The placement was initially discussed last year, as a result of collaboration between Emily Leeks, Ali Thayne, our Dementia Care team lead, and Dr Jane Hibberd, UEA Lecturer and Placement co-ordinator, but was delayed by the arrival of Covid-19. The initiative is designed to enhance the opportunities for Occupational Therapy students. 

Emily says; “I was looking at the possibility of providing more creative opportunities than the standard ward-based placement for students coming into the Trust. The idea was to host an OT student within the Dementia Care team, with an occupational therapy supervisor overseeing from a distance, to give specialist teams at our hospital the opportunity to see the added value and benefit an Allied Health Professional (AHP) colleague could bring. The opportunity to diversify a team even further seemed an appealing one, with the long term hope that specialist areas may grow their teams to include AHP colleagues and get benefit for our patients through this support. 

“We worked closely with the UEA and the first placement was completed by student Jo Beaumont at the end of October. From our point of view it was a huge success and we will be aiming to run more placements. 

“We now have a student OT within the Lymphodema team for two days a week and I am in discussion with the research team to have a student with them in the near future. I’m excited about what the  future holds. OTs are versatile, bring a creative approach and are adaptable to many teams and I am thankful to my specialist colleagues for allowing us to explore this.” 

Jo Beaumont said she had initially requested a day shadowing the dementia team while on placement with the orthopaedic team at the James Paget. 

“I was really interested into how dementia impacted on a patients recovery and journey through the hospital, so asked if I could do this. After this day Ali and Emily set out to create a placement with the dementia team and they approached me and asked if I would be interested. It was an opportunity I jumped at. 

“I really enjoyed the placement, and learnt so much about Dementia, its impact on individuals, carers and ward staff and about dementia care within the hospital.  

“Throughout it I was supported by Ali and Dulcine and was able to establish how Occupational Therapy could positively impact on patients with dementia. It not only allowed me to learn about dementia and dementia care, but also gave me a greater understanding of Occupational Therapy role within dementia care. 

“I could not of wanted for better support, with both educators giving information and guidance with enthusiasm and underpinning explanations. I would definitely recommended this placement, to increase understanding that dementia care is very important in all health and social care settings.” 

Dulcine Carney said she had been delighted to be involved. “It was a very productive positive placement and Jo did the most amazing presentation at the end on ‘The value of Occupational Therapy within the dementia care team’.” 

Ali Thayne, Dementia Care team lead, said the placement had been valuable. 

“This was the first time we had trailed this type of placement. Jo had had a bespoke day with the Dementia Team previously, so we were aware of her passions and interest in patients living with dementia. This was a vital requirement  when selecting the right individual who would be able to work autonomously. 

“There were a number of challenges along the way due to Covid, however we were flexible and met each challenge head on with a sense of humour and open communication. We had constant conversation with both Dulcine and Emily to ensure there was plenty of support for both myself and Jo and her OT learning. 

“The key point was always `why an OT in dementia care’ and Jo demonstrated the impact and benefit that individually structured activities planned by an OT can make for our patients with dementia in hospital. 

“This had a positive impact on the patients, provided support for the staff and reassurance for families, especially when visiting changed.”