Today was the first day of my internship with Aalborg Kommune (Aalborg Municipality) and Videnscenter for Demens (Dementia Research Center). It all happened quite fast – I had interviews just last week, and I got the feeling that they didn’t have a clear picture of what they wanted me to do.
I will be spending 4 weeks (June) at:
- Skelhuset – a house in the forest that caters to people with dementia under age 65 (or were diagnosed before age 65) who live in the municipality. It’s a lot like a dementia day center. They aim to delay or prevent disability through an active lifestyle and provide social activities. More information here (in Danish).
- Brocaféen – an informal meeting place for people with young-onset dementia and their family and friends. It’s like a social club, and located near the center of town, near the opera house, parks, and cultural centers, so they are also active in the community. They also offer advice and counseling, more information here (in Danish).
- Specialskolen for voksne – a special school in the municipality that caters to adults. I will sit in on the courses for people with early-onset dementia, where they teach compensating methods: on finding strategies to compensate for memory changes, tools that help to manage losses, to strengthen activities and functioning (physical and cognitive), and to create and strengthen social networks. You can read more here (in Danish).
The second 4 weeks (July) at the Hjælpemidlerdepot and Center for Velfærdsteknologi– a service in the municipality that offers assistive devices, home modifications, support of vehicles so that citizens can live as independently as possible. They offer low-tech devices such as crutches and back pillows to high-tech devices like GPS trackers. My role will be to learn which assistive technologies (low and high) are offered to and used by people with dementia and their families, and to make recommendations on additional tools they could incorporate.
The goal of my internship is to observe the practices and their effects for dementia services in the municipality, and then provide a summary and recommendations on the consistency and effectiveness of the services. I am particularly excited about this internship, because I feel like I have been missing having contact with the people with dementia after the past few years of mostly researching and writing about it – I am missing the human aspects of dementia care. And Skelhuset sounds like a fantastic experience, to be taking long walks in the woods and promoting an active lifestyle! I am also excited about recommending technologies the municipality could offer to people with dementia – this is what I did my PhD on and I have yet to serve in a professional role based on that education, so I am really looking forward to seeing how it all comes together by the end of the internship.
Here is part of the group, starting out our 4 kilometer walk through the forest with a visit to feed the horses. I think I am really going to enjoy this!