Are you a carer?

Please watch my short film, which includes families and carers reading from the letters they sent me.

If you would like to share your story or make a persoanl pledge to make a difference please email

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

5 day tour with NHS Western Isles for dementia awareness week 2017

I  would like to take this opportunity to thank the Elizabeth Shelby, NHS Western Isles Dementia Consultant Nurse,  Denise Symington, NHS Western Isles Patient Focus Public Involvement Development Officer, and all at   NHS Western Isles @NHSWI  for the kind invite and for putting this tour together over dementia awareness week 2017 

with  great thanks to Chief Nursing officer for Scotland Fiona McQueen  @FionaCMcQueen  as This is part of our new partnership working With the CNOd 



Tommy’s Hebridean Tour – Dementia Carer Voices: You Can Make a Difference.

In conjunction with NHS Western Isles, Tommy Whitelaw from Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE) Dementia Carers Voices will be hosting a series of events aimed at raising dementia awareness for people with dementia and their carers.

Tommy, who lives in Glasgow, was a full-time carer for his late mother Joan who had been diagnosed with vascular dementia. Through supporting his mother, he became a well-known national campaigner raising awareness of the issues surrounding dementia.

The events, which are being held throughout the Western Isles, will also be attended by Elizabeth Shelby, NHS Western Isles Dementia Consultant Nurse, and Denise Symington, NHS Western Isles Patient Focus Public Involvement Development Officer, and will enable those with dementia and their carers to meet in a relaxed and friendly environment, encouraging them to discuss issues which affect them.

Tommy said, “My motivation as a carer came from the love I had for my mum and I would do it all again in a heartbeat, but my experience has shown me just how tough it is to live with dementia and how many struggles it can bring. I felt passionately that no one should have to face the confusion, loneliness and isolation and my passion to raise awareness of dementia and its impact on families has grown even stronger since my mum’s passing. I am working on The Dementia Carers Voices project with the ALLIANCE which will build on my ‘Tommy on Tour’ campaign by engaging with carers, collecting their life stories and raise awareness amongst health and social care professionals on both dementia and caring.”

The ‘No one ever asked’ short film, which was produced by Tommy to raise awareness for people with dementia and their carers from a carer’s perspective is available to view at:

During the events Tommy will provide an emotional account of caring for his mother, whilst promoting the work of Dementia Carer Voices, which raises awareness of the issues around caring for someone with dementia including among health and social care professionals, students and the wider public.

Elizabeth Shelby, NHS Western Isles Dementia Consultant Nurse, said “Tommy’s experience will ring true with many people who had difficulty finding and accessing support following a dementia diagnosis.

“In the islands, particularly in the more remote areas, it has been families and communities who have provided the main support to their loved ones and we need to ensure those carers have all the information and help that they need to carry on. The local strategy aims to ensure that wherever you live, you do not need to face dementia alone. Dementia is everyone’s business and knowing what anyone can do to make a difference is a first step.”

As part of the project’s pledge campaign and in the lead up to ‘What Matters To You’ day being held on June 6th, additional events are also being planned for health and social care professionals and students to receive information to support them in delivering compassionate, personal and relationship based care. Those attending will be encouraged to create pledges, with the simple message of how individuals can make a difference, no matter what their role.

The ALLIANCE`s Dementia Carer Voices particularly highlights the role of carers as experts, and champions how they should be recognised for the value that they bring to the life of their loved ones and to society as a whole; carers as people with needs and carers as people with independent lives. Furthermore it empowers carers by providing information based on the Charter of Rights and Carers Strategy about caring for someone with dementia, and captures the experiences of carers across Scotland with a view to informing future policy and service provision.

Events will be held as follows:

Wednesday 31st May – Meet and Greet Carers and people with Dementia. 1.30pm-2.30pm at Cobhair Bharraigh, Castlebay.

Thursday 1st June – Carers Morning Tea. 10.30am-11.30am at Sacred Heart House, Daliburgh.

Thursday 1st June – Staff and Carers Tea. 7.00pm-8.00pm Harris House, Tarbert.

Friday 2nd June (two events)
* Opportunity to Visit the Clisham Memory Garden from 1pm-1.30pm in Clisham Ward Garden at Western Isles Hospital, Stornoway. Volunteers involved in readying the garden for spring are invited to join. Entry via the garden gate.

* Ceilidh on the Ward from 1.30pm-2.30pm in Erisort Ward, Western Isles Hospital, Stornoway.

Saturday 3rd June
A Memory March, hosted by Alzheimer Scotland, will be held to take place from 2pm at the Bridge Centre, Stornoway.


Read at:’s-hebridean-tour-dementia-carer-voices-you-can-make-a-difference

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

A great Honour to be meeting the First Minister on Wednesday


With Great thanks to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon for taking the time to meet with me on April 27th 
I am so very honoured and grateful for this opportunity to meet and update on my work and hopes for the future.

When campaigning whilst caring for my wonderful mum Joan, I was  so very honoured to meet back then on quite a few occasions, to share the letters that I received and our personal experiences of Mum living with dementia and my own as a full time Carer.

A month before my mum passed away the First Minister ( then Deputy First Minister) took time to,in private visit my mum at our home and hold my mums hand. A day that I will never forget 

I am so very Grateful for this opportunity to meet again,update on all that has happened since, and share my hopes for the future. 

Thank you First Minister for this kind opportunity. 

Thank you from a son 


Monday, 10 April 2017



The Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (The ALLIANCE) is the national third sector intermediary for a wealth of health and social care organisations. It brings together over 1,900 members, including a large network of national and local third sector organisations, associates in the statutory and private sectors and individuals. 
The ALLIANCE’s vision is for a Scotland where people of all ages who are disabled or living with long-term conditions, and unpaid carers, have a strong voice and enjoy the right to live well, as equal and active citizens, free from discrimination, with access to support and services that put them at the centre. 

 The ALLIANCE has three core aims; we seek to: 

• Ensure people are at the centre: that their voices, expertise and rights drive policy and sit at the heart of design, delivery and improvement of support and services;
• Support transformational change: shifting towards approaches that work with individual and community assets; helping people to stay well, supporting human rights, self management, co-production and independent living;
• Champion and support the third sector: as a vital strategic and service delivery partner, and also foster better cross-sector understanding and partnership.

For more inforamtion and how to join can be found at:

#peopleatthecentre #howtojoin #benefits #makingadifference

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Speaking Erskine Hospital on 21st and 27th April.

Massive thanks to our great friend Derek Barron @dtbarron for the kind invite to speak and give 4 talks at Erskine Hospital @Erskine1916 on 21 and 27 April. Tommy had the great honour to speak at Erskine a few months ago.
We are so very honoured to be invited and continue our great relationship with Derek.  We launched our first pledge talks and trees with Derek back in 2015 at NHSAA  along with a short film.
We are looking forward to continue our work together with Derek over the coming years in this new role as Director of Care and linking up with our great friend Janice McAlister @janicemcalister again at the talks.
Erskine is Scotland’s foremost provider of care forveterans and their spouses, Erskine provides unrivalled nursing, residential, respite and dementia care within four homes across Scotland.  An important aspect of ensuring the care we provide is of the highest standard is to ensure our staff have the training, skills and knowledge to support them in delivering compassionate, person and relationship based care.

You can find out more info about Erskine and the April talks from Derek himself.
This month at Erskine we are delighted to welcome back Tommy to speak to our staff.  Following on from the successful delirium/dementia awareness event we held earlier this year the overwhelming feedback was that more staff needed to be involved in the training/awareness session and hear from Tommy.
Tommy and one of our Erskine relatives, along with Janice McAlister (Erskine’s Dementia Nurse Consultant), Dr Claire Copeland (consultant physician) and Janet Leith (Erskine’s Physiotherapist) will be holding two sessions at The Erskine Home, Bishopton and two sessions the following week at our Erskine Edinburgh Home.   The previous sessions held in February saw almost 100 of our more senior staff attend, some from our Edinburgh Home – returning to the Home they started their own pledge tree which can be seen behind Home Manager Alison Payne and NMC Chief Executive Jackie Smith.
The forthcoming talks this month are focused on care assistants, porters, housekeeping, admin staff and any other staff who wishes to attend are also welcome.  Erskine shares Tommy’s vision that each one of us can ‘make a difference’ in the lives of those we touch, which is why we are enthusiastic in rolling out further awareness session to all our staff.

Thanks for reading my blog, You can now view my 8 short flims here!
DCV photo DementiaCarerRGBlandscape3_zpsa2f3d5ff.jpg

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Thank you to the 13,000 people! Thank you for the 13,000 personal pledges

  The Dementia Carer Voices team would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has made a pledge as part of the ‘You Can Make a Difference’ campaign and we are absolutely delighted to have received 13,000 pledges! This is an incredible milestone, and is only possible due to the commitment and compassion from everyone who has attended a talk or read about the campaign and made a promise to make a positive difference in the lives of people with dementia and their carers.
The team have been taking the You Can Make Difference campaign to 550 talks to date, reaching over 75,000, staff and students throughout the UK to highlight that no matter what their role, everyone working in Health and Social Care Services has the potential to transform the lives and experiences of people with dementia and their carers, often in seemingly small ways. 
The talks involve Project Engagement Lead, Tommy Whitelaw, sharing his own personal experiences from caring for his late mum, Joan, and the experiences of others who have written to him since he went on tour in 2011. The campaign allows staff the opportunity to reflect on these personal stories and make a pledge based on one key message or action that they will take away and apply to their everyday practice to make a difference. 
Irene Oldfather, Director, the ALLIANCE said:
 “This work reaches out and touches the hearts of many people, not least Health and Social Care students and professionals. These interactions are an ideal opportunity for staff to pause and reflect on what is really important to the people in their care.  Make a pledge, make a difference.”
Tommy Whitelaw, Dementia Carer Voices Project Engagement Lead, said: 
“Carers tell us that a little bit of time, listening and understanding can make an unimaginable difference during what can be a very difficult and lonely journeyThe pledges that we have received have been truly inspiring, and we’re looking forward to working with people and seeing those pledges fulfilled.”
How you can make a pledge We launched the ‘You Can Make a Difference’ Campaign in February  2014 and it has been so inspiring to see it grow. The campaign  has really shown the difference that every single person can make, no matter how small it may seem. If you have been inspired to make a pledge , please get in touch and email us your pledge at
 Your response has been truly inspiring, so from all of us here – thank you. We really can all make a difference. Stay tuned for the rest of 2017, which is shaping up to be a good year 🙂

       You can meet every person and read every pledge via the links below 

You can read  Case Studies on the different ways people are putting pledges into practice at the link HERE                  

November 2016
October 2016

August 2016
July 2016

May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
09/03/16 Hairmyers Hospital create their own pledge tree!
22/03/16 Bolton pledges to make a difference!
24/03/16 Hampshire Hospital Trust pledges!
31/03/16 184 pledges from University of Central Lancashire

February 2016
Bolton pledges to make a difference! via  
January 2016



December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015

December 2014
15/16.12.14 Norfolk and Suffolk

November 2014
03.11.14 Online pledges
07.11.14 Burton Hospital
13.11.14  Pledges of the week
24.11.14 The Retreat York
October 2014
13.10.14 More Pledges
27-30.10.14 NHS Highland Tour
September 2014
01.09.14  Teesside University
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
3/4.06.14 NHS Conference
27.06.14 BCDA Birmingham
May 2014 
April 2014
(08 -10).04.14 NHS Dumfries & Galloway 
March 2014
February 2014
19.02.14 NHS Fife
January 2014
            We began the campaign by asking 
              “What does caring mean to you?”

Thanks for reading my blog, You can now view my 8 short flims here!
DCV photo DementiaCarerRGBlandscape3_zpsa2f3d5ff.jpg