This blog began as a journal of a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travel Award visit to the USA to study how Lifestyle Redesign could be used in Occupational Therapy to improve the hospital/home interface for older people. It has continued to record developments and inspiration gained from that experience since returning from Los Angeles early in 2012.

3 Reasons to follow this blog...

Be Inspired-
WCMT travel awards are open to all British citizens

Be Involved- learn about Lifestyle Redesign programs and contribute to the discussion about the potential of this approach.

Be Information Technology savvy- just learning how blogs work is a new skill for many of us!

Saturday, 22 June 2013

OT? So What?

During the week I attended the College of Occupational Therapists Conference in Glasgow. The College of Occupational Therapists Specialist Section- Older People (COTSS-OP) conference ran simultaneously. It was really inspiring to hear many of the main keynote speakers, such as professor Michael Iwama, talking about preventative work and public health being important future arenas for OTs. The vital role OTs play in acute and emergency care settings was very much acknowledged, but the importance of linking well with community based services was very much at the forefront of the discussions.

I presented a facilitated poster discussion about my study visit to the University of Southern California. I outlined the background to the visit and then went on to the following:
'...Current hospital discharge practice can be frustrating for both OTs and older people themselves. It can be reductionist, grounded in a medical model and emphasise ‘safety’ at the expense of occupational engagement and enablement of valued daily activities. A paradigm shift on the part of policy makers, service managers and individual OTs is needed to change this. An understanding of the principles of the LRD model can provide a way forward.

I want to leave you with some points to ponder based on the opening plenary speech given by Professor Iwama and Jacqui Lunday Johnstone’s Keynote address to the COTSS-Older People’s conference. Professor Iwama challenged us to re-examine how and where we work and to look at the preventative and public health arenas as the future of Occupational Therapy. He asked us to consider the relevance of our services to the lives of the people and communities we serve. Jacqui Lunday Johnstone emphasised the need to demonstrate outcomes or the ‘added value’ that occupational therapists provide- what she termed the ‘So What?’. Both affirmed that the unique skills of OTs, if fully utilised can have real impact on the hospital to home interface. Using an approach inspired by Lifestyle Redesign® could help to make this a reality.

Imagine the older people who use your service being asked two questions:
  1. Was the OT service you received relevant to your life?
  2. If you received a service, So What? What was the added value it brought?

If the answers you think you would get are not what you would wish them to be, then it is time to begin looking at the reasons and to think about whether using aspects of Lifestyle Redesign® could be a way to change the answers in future.'

Thursday, 2 May 2013

A to Z Blogging Callenge over

The Blogging from A to Z Challenge is finally over. I'd like to thank everyone who has visited this blog during the challenge- and apologise if I have deleted your comments, a blip occurred and deleted a whole lot (probably my fault when intending to delete spam!). Doing the challenge has made me think and reflect on my experiences while visiting the University of Southern California alongside my experience of working as an OT. It has sparked off some new ideas that I hope to be blogging about in future...
Congratulations to everyone else who completed the challenge- it's not easy!

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

blue Zones



The final post in this year’s Blogging from A to Z Challenge and fittingly it is a subject that looks to the future. My theme for the month has been ‘Age Proof Your Life”. My posts have included ideas that we can all do as individuals as well as some that work at the level of a whole community or government policy.

I began this blog because I was awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust travel award in 2011 and it is also satisfying that my final post is inspired by the work of another Churchill Fellow, Jan McClory. I heard Jan speak at the recent AGM of the Scottish Association of Churchill Fellows. Her subject was “Old and Healthy? Can Scottish Communities ever become Blue Zones?

Jan is a Social Worker based in Scotland and spoke about the factors that contribute to Scotland’s poor health record- now being recognised as more complex than the oft mentioned issues of poverty and poor diet. She explained that there has been a lot of research into the factors that are present in communities around the world that have long life expectancy- and perhaps more important, healthy long lives. Examples of communities that have been studied are in parts of Japan, Costa Rica, Sardinia, Greece and Loma Linda in California.

These communities with healthier, happier and more productive older citizens have become known as Blue Zones. Pilot projects are being carried out in the US to see if the same can be achieved in communities there. Pilot sites are Minnesota, Iowa and Beach Cities, Los Angeles. Very specific methodologies are used and all aspects of life within the community are included- home, work, the town, friends and so on.
 Jan’s full report will very soon be available on the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust website and can be found by following this link (not yet live at the time of writing this post):

I am very much looking forward to reading the full report.

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read and comment on the posts in this series. I hope you have enjoyed reading them and that you have found some inspiration to help you Age Proof your life.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Young at Heart



Young at Heart

Frank Sinatra, written by Riley B King.

Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you
If you're young at heart.
For it's hard, you will find, to be narrow of mind
If you're young at heart.

You can go to extremes with impossible schemes.
You can laugh when your dreams fall apart at the seams.
And life gets more exciting with each passing day.
And love is either in your heart, or on it's way.

Don't you know that it's worth every treasure on earth
To be young at heart.
For as rich as you are, it's much better by far
To be young at heart.

And if you should survive to 105,
Look at all you'll derive out of being alive!
And here is the best part, you have a head start
If you are among the very young at heart.

Perhaps the definitive ‘age proof your life’ lyrics...

Saturday, 27 April 2013

X... Let's Talk About...



Let’s talk about…

Has anyone seen the bittersweet, sad and funny film Song for Marion? It is one of many films in recent years that have older people starring in roles that portray real life issues and some of the realities of getting older.

In the film Vanessa Redgrave plays a seriously ill woman who gets much enjoyment from singing with her local (and somewhat unusual) community choir. Her grumpy husband (Terence Stamp) is completely unimpressed. The film follows the changes the choir makes for him and their family as their story unfolds.

One of the highlights of the film is the choir performing the Salt n Pepa hit “Let’s Talk About Sex” to an astonished and delighted audience.
The film has lots of messages about Age Proofing your life. For a trailer follow this link:

And for Salt n Pepa’s brilliant 1991 original, here is another link:

1991? That’s 22 years ago. Hope S & P are thinking about age proofing their lives now….

Friday, 26 April 2013

Walk in Our Shoes...




Walk in Our Shoes…



                                                                                          ….Act on our issues

Age Scotland and Generations Working Together have collaborated to produce a pack designed for use by community groups, schools and others. The pack helps the group to identify things within their own neighbourhood that are barriers to older people being included in the community. It also advises on how to get help to do something about it.

The Age UK website has lots of helpful resources for any group wanting to use the pack.

Walk in our shoes is another great example of how communities can work to Age Proof the lives of older people- and help other generations understand the issues older people may face.

More information is available by following this link:

Thursday, 25 April 2013




‘Occupation can create new visions of possible selves’ (Mandel et al 1999- see Books tab at top of page)

The Lifestyle Redesign® approach in Occupational Therapy includes using occupations, or activities, to help individuals create new ‘visions’ of possible future selves. In a simple way, we can all relate to this if we think about the way we feel as we begin a new fitness regime, have a wardrobe clear out or de-clutter our desk at work. In the process we imagine how we will behave and how our daily life will be different as we adopt the new habits we have embarked on… we can also all relate to the fact that sometimes several attempts are needed before the vision becomes a reality!

Occupational Therapists using this approach use activities and the seemingly ordinary, everyday narrative that naturally develops to help an individual explore possible new ‘visions’ of the person they might be in the future. If someone has a medical condition that seriously impacts on their daily life, or has had a life changing injury, this process can help to build a self image that ‘bridges’ the old self and the new. 

We are what we do and the process of developing a vision of a future self is something to consider when Age Proofing your life. Talking about the present and future changes in your life, trying new activities and generally following some of the ideas from this A-Z series of blog posts will help to support you in the process of exploring possible new ways of being through doing.

Even when life is changing and we cannot do all that we used to, engaging in daily activities and routines that have a sense of meaning allow us to experience a vision of a future worth living.