Michelle Candlish

BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy 2018

Dementia Link Worker for Ceartas
‌ Advocacy

Michelle Candlish 680

Tell us in more detail what your role entails, what challenges you currently face, and how you are finding ways to cope.

Whilst I am not in direct contact with people, I am currently working from home supporting people living at home with dementia. I run 7 groups within East Dunbartonshire for people living dementia and their caregivers (leaflet attached). Part of my job is to educate the community on dementia. Currently I am visiting all the Fire Stations in East Dunbartonshire to train the Firefighters on dementia awareness. I am supporting members by phoning them to check they have support and answering any questions they may have. I have been compiling newsletters to provide information/ideas on how to fill their day. This has been beneficial in the sense that I have had more time to talk and more importantly listen and it has built a quicker rapport than I would be able to do at group meetings. I have emailed those who use computers and I have posted copies to those who do not. I feel the people with computers have the edge as they can easily click on the links I am providing for further information. 

My skills as a registered occupational therapist (although I am not employed as one) are invaluable in this role as occupational needs and abilities change as people progress in their dementia. I have been chatting to people about things they can do to stay physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy whilst in lockdown.  

One of the hardest challenges for me has been adjusting to working from home (family life). Missing my colleagues (to help with technical issues) and also to chat around ideas. I thrive and energise by being with other people so this has been challenging as I can feel lonely (even although I live with 3 men). I am lucky to have a garden which I enjoy and have placed my working space to look out the window so I have enjoyed watching the blue tits bathe and the magpies fight! This has led into some nice conversations with the people I am supporting. 

Do you have a top tip for coping at a time of crisis? Or a few words of advice or support for fellow students and alumni on the front line?

I make sure I have a walk every day, I have been crafting and learning guitar.  I limit myself to the news and keep in touch with friends and family on facetime.  I have been experimenting more with cooking and have caught up in small jobs I keep putting off. 

I would say my top tip is to have an attitude of gratitude.  I cannot fix this virus but I can remind myself of all that I do have…… 

e.g.  I am grateful for my house, my family, my health, my job, a cosy bed at night, central heating, TV, my hot showers, clothes, food, “toilet roll”, soap, nature, blue skies, flowers and so it goes on…