Inspired by 40 years of dementia care

Jackie Pool, director of memory care at Sunrise Senior Living UK and Gracewell Healthcare, is set to publish an innovative new book inspired by her 40 years of work tackling dementia.

As a leading occupational therapist specialising in dementia, Pool has long made the case for ‘rementia’ – the possibility of reversing the symptoms of the condition and restoring lost functions. Having started her journey as an occupational therapy assistant in the 1980s, Pool has devoted her career to dementia care and researching how individuals can be supported to maintain their current abilities for longer.

The approach to dementia care has seen a dramatic overhaul in recent years, with a new understanding of dementia as a neurological issue and a myriad of different causes. It is this that forms the basis of Pool's work. Significantly, leading specialists have shown that social psychology – how we treat those with dementia – has a part in determining the symptoms of dementia.

Occupational therapy has been vital to the ‘rementia’ approach, allowing for the unique needs of each individual to be understood and the specific activities they would like to learn - whether it’s making a cup of tea or recalling names - to be broken down.

Pool’s journey to becoming one of the UK’s forward-thinking dementia specialists has also been shaped by her personal experiences. Watching her gran live with dementia as a child and a lack of general understanding meant that Pool’s family didn’t know that her behaviour was caused by the condition – or even what dementia was.

When Pool’s mother was diagnosed with dementia in 1995, the work of pioneering specialists, including her own dementia care consultancy, meant that she and others with a family member affected were incomparably better prepared to provide support and care. 

Her new book, 'Reducing the Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementias: A Guide to Personal Cognitive Rehabilitation Techniques’ will present practical guidance for people affected by memory loss, their families and carers on reducing the symptoms of these conditions. Covering topics such as nutrition, stress, communication, memory and sleep, Pool will show how therapeutic cognitive rehabilitation techniques can be used to ultimately improve quality of life.

Jackie Pool says: “I am so excited for the release of my new book and hope that it will serve as a personal guide to rehabilitation for people who are either living with memory loss or know somebody who is.

"I have long been engaged in studies looking into how the ‘rementia’ model and the use of occupational therapy can be used to improve and sustain quality of life. The understanding of how dementia symptoms are shaped by individual circumstances was a formative moment for those of us working in dementia care in the 1990s and has been fundamental to my work at Sunrise Senior Living UK and Gracewell Healthcare.

"What I hope to do now is contribute to efforts to bring this revolutionary approach into the dementia care mainstream so that it can reach as many people affected by dementia as possible - and deliver not just advice, but hope.”

Jackie will present her book at the UK Dementia Congress this November. Over the last 13 years, the annual event, organised by the Journal of Dementia Care, has provided a multidisciplinary forum for professionals, experts and people living with dementia to learn, network and share ideas and experiences. Reducing the Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementias will be released on 21 November 2018.


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