A University of Stirling academic has scooped a top award for helping people with learning difficulties come to terms with dementia.
Dr Karen Watchman’s booklet, ‘Jenny’s Diary’, was crowned Self Management Resource of the Year during a special ceremony at the Scottish Parliament, organised to celebrate approaches that empower people to feel in control of their health and wellbeing.
Dr Watchman, a Senior Lecturer in Ageing, Frailty and Dementia, developed the booklet after her study found that some people with learning disabilities may struggle to understand dementia and the effects the condition has on them or loved-ones.
Funded by the Alzheimer’s Society, the booklet features everyday scenarios highlighting the impact of dementia and suggests strategies for support. It is especially important to people with learning difficulties, particularly Down’s syndrome, as they may be at higher risk of developing dementia at an early age.
Dr Watchman said: “It is an honour to win this particular award, as self management is a key focus of our work in the Enhancing Self Care research group within Health Sciences.
“Self management, or self care, is about taking care of ourselves, our families and our community and about providing support to minimise the impact of long-term conditions such as dementia. Access to appropriate information in an accessible format is crucial to be better prepared for changes and challenges that may arise.
“Jenny's Diary, in collaboration with Hansel, aims to support conversations about dementia among people who have a learning disability.”
Dr Watchman also thanked the Alzheimer’s Society for their funding of the work.
The annual Scottish Self Management Awards are organised by the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland and this year’s event, on Wednesday, 4 October, was sponsored by MSP Jackie Baillie.
Ian Welsh OBE, Chief Executive of the Alliance, said: “The stories of the people and projects crowned as ‘change-makers’ in this year’s Self Management Awards provide real food for thought about the innovative approaches that Scotland can take to support people to live well with long term conditions.
“What’s clear is that self management is not about going it alone, and these awards highlight the importance of partnership working across the third sector, health, social care and beyond to support people to access information and to develop the skills that enable them to live their lives on their terms."
Jenny’s Diary will also compete in the Diversity Through Education and Design for Diversity categories at the Herald Diversity Awards, which will be held at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Glasgow on Thursday, 12 October.
Stirling’s BSc Nursing Programme is also shortlisted for the Design for Diversity award.
Dr Watchman is currently leading a three-year research project implementing non-drug interventions with people who have a learning disability and dementia.