Otago Polytechnic
Holding hands elPadawan 23 Jun 2012 CC BY SA 2.0

Helping dementia sufferers

Occupational therapy student Anae Dixon hopes to improve the care of dementia sufferers.

Anae, a recipient of a Todd Foundation grant, wrote a dissertation for the Honours year of her Bachelor's degree in Occupational Therapy. She investigated the use of the Pool Activity Level (PAL) in the Older Persons Mental Health Admissions Unit at the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board.

Anae explains that PAL is a tool that enables those caring for people with dementia to assess their levels of ability. The focus is on what they can do rather than what they can't, so that carers can then design activities appropriate to the level of ability of the person cared for. The aim is to maximize their independence, reducing the frustration and humiliation associated with having things done for them unnecessarily.

PAL is used widely in the United Kingdom and Anae hopes to encourage consideration of the use of PAL more widely in New Zealand. She produced a report for the Nelson Marlborough DHB, and presented her work at the Alzheimers NZ conference in Wellington.

Image credit: elPadawan, used under Creative Commons licence CC BY-SA 2.0