Adapting recovery-oriented approaches and technology to dementia

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United Kingdom United Kingdom University of Nottingham

Early Stage Researcher (ESR1)

ESR1: photo of Lesley Garcia

Lesley Garcia

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Prof. Justine Schneider

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Prof. Martin Orrell

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Hello, I am an occupational therapist from Trinidad and Tobago. I am excited and grateful to be part of the DISTINCT programme where I will be researching ways in which persons living with dementia and their caregivers can manage their lives in their own way and remain full members of their communities. I have a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA and a Doctor of Occupational Therapy from Loma Linda University in California, USA.

My master research focused on the impact of the social environment on persons living with dementia, and my OTD research was on contextually situated occupational therapy curriculum design. In clinical practice, I did programme development, and provided community-based OT interventions for working age and older adults with psychosocial, neurological and orthopedic conditions. Over the last 15 years, I have also had the pleasure of serving the OT profession in the Caribbean in a variety of executive capacities. As a former Trinidad and Tobago Delegate to the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT), I am especially excited to continue to collaborate with the WFOT through this DISTINCT research project. Having had the privilege of recently being the founding Director of the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy programme at the University of the Southern Caribbean, I am excited to be now able to combine academia, research and clinical practice for the benefit of people living with dementia.

Start date October 2019
Duration 36 months


Recovery-oriented approaches are widely used as group-based mental health interventions which encourage people who are relatively unimpaired to specify their needs when they become unwell, to avoid crises and promote wellbeing.


  1. This ESR will adapt recovery-oriented approaches and technology for dementia in consultation with people who have the disorder, their caregivers and qualified facilitators.
  2. Evaluating the effectiveness of specific contemporary technology.
  3. Conditions for successful implementation (adoption, scale-up, spread, sustainability) of technology in daily life, dementia care and society.

Expected Results

This project will adapt recovery-oriented approaches and technology for dementia in consultation with people who have the diagnosis, with a focus on planning for their decline in ability to meet social obligations and conduct a feasibility study comparing wellbeing for participation in recovery-oriented intervention groups with groups that have only social objectives.

Planned secondment(s)

Two for 3 months each. The first in year one with VUB to learn about manual based technology, and the second in year 3 with WFOT to examine international aspects of recovery-oriented intervention implementation.



  1. Koh WQ., Heins P., Flynn A., Mahmoudi Asl A., Garcia L., Malinowsky C., & Brorsson A. (2022). Bridging gaps in the design and implementation of socially assistive technologies for dementia care: the role of occupational therapy. Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology. 1-9.


  1. Garcia, L., Schneider, J., & Orrell, M. (2022, 17-19 October). Main findings of the DISTINCT projects on technology to promote social health [Symposium presentation]. 32nd Alzheimer Europe Conference. Bucharest, Romania.
  2. Garcia, L., Schneider, J., & Orrell, M. (2021, October 30). The recovery approach in dementia care; theory and practice: A systematic review and narrative synthesis. 15th Biennial Scientific Conference. Association of Caribbean Occupational Therapists, Virtual, Cayman Islands.
  3. Garcia, L., Schneider, J., & Orrell, M. (2021, March 10). “Development of a ROAD MAP (digital) Recovery-Oriented Approach to Dementia through Meaningful Activity and Participation” (Webinar presentation]. Centre for Dementia lunchtime seminars (online), Institute of Mental Health, University of Nottingham, UK
  4. Garcia, L., Schneider, J., & Orrell, M. (2020, October 23). Promoting occupational justice through the development of a ROAD MAP for people living with dementia: Exploring the relationships between critical occupational therapy and occupational science, the recovery approach and dementia care intervention development  [Online Workshop]. End of Life Care Research Group, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium