Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Make a Difference talks across Universities and Colleges – the class of 2017

As many people take their first steps into nursing and many other areas of health and social care, Dementia Carer Voices are proud to continue our relationships with universities and colleges across Scotland.  We are looking forward to meeting with the class`s of 2017 as they start their journey in to the wonderful profession of caring.
As a continuation of the last 4 years, Dementia Carer Voices will be taking our ‘Make a Difference seminars’ to many 1st year students over September, October and November.
Please see some of the dates confirmed below with more to be added over the next few weeks.
You can also view the inspiring pledges from our previous visits at the link here
  • 15.09.17 2 Educational Seminars at UWS, Ayr Campus, with Fiona McQueen, CNO Scotland and Shaun Maher, Person Centred Lead at Scottish Government.
  • 27.09.17 Educational Seminar at UWS, Hamilton Campus
  • 04.10.17 Educational Seminar at Glasgow City College.
  • 06.10.17 Educational Seminar at UWS, Paisley Campus, with Fiona McQueen, CNO Scotland.
  • 17.10.17 2 Educational Seminars at Napier University.
  • 18.10.17 Educational Seminar at Glasgow Caledonian University

We have many more dates to add please follow this post for updates on our tour across universities and colleges across Scotland as we meet the class of 2017.
If you would like us to visit a university or college on any of the dates above please contact
Team DCV 🙂

Thanks for reading my blog, You can now view my 8 short flims here!
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Monday, 7 August 2017

Honoured to have a portrait of Mum and Dad in #Ittakesavillage at the Edinburgh Book Festival

I am so very honored to have a portrait of my Mum and dad in an exhibition this weekend at the Edinburgh book festival as part of  #Ittakesavillage 

The portrait  below was part of an exhibition  across Scotland last year .you can read more about the exhibition below 

As part of the Edinburgh book festival the exhibition will take place on August 12th & 13th at the  Greenhouse, George Street Edinburgh quite close to Charlotte Square.

 The exhibition is free and open to the public from 10am - 4.30pm both Saturday and Sunday:

A Preview of It Takes a Village, a new exhibition by Colin Gray and the Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care (SPPC).
This powerful and challenging new work features a series of portraits by Colin Gray exploring the concept that ‘if it takes a village’ to raise a child it also takes a range of people to look after someone who is dying and their family. Based on interviews by the SPPC, the exhibition shares personal insights and experiences from the various perspectives of people who have cared for someone who’s dying or their family.
The Preview marks the beginning of Death Awareness Week Scotland, which aims to raise awareness of the positive benefits of planning ahead for death and dying. It is part of the Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care’s ongoing Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief work to promote more openness about death, dying and bereavement in Scotland.
Full press release can be downloaded here.
List of Venues and Dates of Exhibitions

Dementia Carer Voices short film with NHS 24

As part of our ongoing partnership work with the CNO Scotland, Fiona McQueen, Dementia Carer Voices have been interviewed for a short film with NHS 24
Massive thanks to Sheena Wright, Director of Nursing & Care/Interim Director of Operations, Lisa Dransfield, Senior Communications Manager and all at NHS 24 for the kind opportunity to work together.
The short film is in two parts, in the first instance our UK Engagement Lead, Tommy Whitelaw, shared a personal experience looking back at when he was caring for his late mum, Joan.
This film was shown last week to the board and staff at an NHS 24 board meeting and shared on the NHS 24 Facebook page.
You can view the interview below.
A second piece of filming is soon to be published featuring a conversation about the ” 5 must do with me” steps ,which are a big feature of our talks and are embedded  in all we do at Dementia Care Voices
This film will be published soon and we hope to share here when ready.
Once again, a big thank you to all at NHS 24 for the opportunity to work together we look forward to more over the next few months.
Thank you for all the team at DCV

Posted in News

Thanks for reading my blog, You can now view my 8 short flims here!
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‘It’s about unleashing, not controlling’

On 26th June, the Health and Social Care Academy hosted ‘Emphasising Humanity over Bureaucracy in Social Care‘; an event that explored what emphasising humanity looks like in practice, not just for those receiving care but for those providing it. 
William Kløverød Griffiths, Policy and Information Intern, Dementia Carer Voices spoke at the event about the work of Dementia Carer Project and the emerging themes from the pledges that have been gathered. In this blog William writes about the You Can Make a Difference campaign and the importance of celebrating the kindness of people with dementia, their families and carers.
President of Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Don Berwick, has been credited with saying “The heart of improvement is not in controlling, it is in unleashing.” For me this really sums up the work of Dementia Carer Voices ‘You Can Make a Difference’ campaign. The work we do is about unleashing not in controlling what people do, their messages and their stories.
The campaign is about celebrating and unleashing the kindness and dedication of people with dementia, their families and carers. It is to emphasise that they are equal partners in the care they receive. To this end we collect the stories and experiences unpaid carers have in providing care to their loved ones. Dementia Carer Voices are building a range of multi medium case studies, asking people what matters to them. It is our hope that these will provide useful evidence about the lived experience of the lives of unpaid carers. In that regard, we hope to be a platform to unleash the messages of unpaid carers.
The project also shows the lived experiences of people with dementia, their families and carers to those who work in the health and social care system. It is a difficult and underappreciated role that health and social care staff do every single day, day in and day out, but it is essential to the health and wellbeing of millions of people. Thousands of people come into contact with NHS Scotland every day, an estimated 37,000 people living in care homes in Scotland, and many more receiving home care visits. If our campaign can unleash some compassion, care and consideration into every one of those human contacts, then we will make our health and social care system better.
So the work we do at Dementia Carer Voices is about unleashing the passion and kindness of unpaid carers. It is about those people who sit by our beds, knock on our front doors and who we speak to on the phone. It is about the people who treat us when we are unwell, about those who offer kindness when we are vulnerable and are able to make a difference in people’s lives. To all those who follow the five must dos of caring for someone, and place the person at the centre of their care.
When I first joined this project a little over two months ago, I took out a selection of the pledges we have received over the years. Just over 13,000 people have made a personal pledge to make a difference, giving people the opportunity to commit to, to share and celebrate the difference they and we can all make every time we meet someone. That is what this project is about, it is about unleashing the voice of people with dementia, their families and carers. These are people seldom heard, but with our project hopefully gives them the chance to express themselves and take this message to people who make policy.
Dementia is everyone’s business. It is not about buildings or organisations, it’s about the people within and the people we meet, on every occasion it’s about people and relationships. It’s about the life and love stories of families all across the county. So I truly hope the people the pledges, the life and the love stories are about unleashing what matters, who matters and about unleashing the parts we can all play in every moment, every day and every time.
If you would like to learn more about the project, or to sign up to our mailing list, please email

Thanks for reading my blog, You can now view my 8 short flims here!
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Tuesday, 1 August 2017

You Can Make a Difference – Case Studies 2017

 You Can Make
a Difference

Dementia Carer Voices began its flagship ‘You Can Make a Difference’ campaign in February 2014, which has gone from strength to strength. The campaign calls upon health and social care professionals to reflect on the lived experience of people affected by dementia, and identify key messages or actions from their stories that they can take away and apply to their everyday practice to improve outcomes for people living with dementia and their carers.
The campaign has had an extensive outreach programme, engaging with an estimated 80,000 people over the course of 600 talks since February 2014. As the campaign continues this year, this total is set to increase throughout 2017.
This campaign, primarily targeted at health and social care professionals and students, has travelled across the country with the simple message that we can all make a difference, no matter what our role. The highly translatable nature of the campaign has encouraged people from all backgrounds to participate, and has meant that along with professionals and students, MSPs and members of the public have readily pledged their support not just to the project but to the estimated 788,000 unpaid carers in Scotland.
The campaign seeks to empower individuals to make a positive difference in the lives of people living with dementia, their families and carers. It aims to encourage people to do what they can to make their journeys easier, often in simple ways. Perhaps the most common pledge is
“I pledge to see the person and not the dementia.”
This is an invaluable shift towards a more person-centred culture, which puts the focus back on the person at all times, recognising them as experts in their own lives and shifting the balance of power towards individuals.

To date, the campaign has gathered 14,000 pledges to make a difference. The pledges are inspired by the Make a Difference campaign, and are collected in a variety of means. This includes in person at awareness talks, at events such as conferences, via email and online through the blog site and twitter account. Throughout the journey of the campaign, the project team have been keen to learn about what works, and what changes if any are needed for the pledges to be fulfilled. As a result, the team have recommended that the hosting organisation for a talk should keep the pledges and work alongside their colleagues to make a difference. This has been done in a variety of ways by different partners, some of which are outlined below.

You Can Make a Difference – Case Studies


Colchester Hospital 
Tommy has been invited to give several talks at Colchester Hospital – three talks in February and two talks in July 2017. In the initial talks in February, Tommy received pledges from the nurses at the Hospital and was invited back in July for the unveiling of the “Dementia Care Pledge Tree” which was painted by A-Level student, Lara Wallington at Colchester Sixth Form College.


The beautiful tree stands 8 feet tall in the foyer of Outside Surgical Assessment Unit (SAU) in the Main Building of Colchester General Hospital. It is being filled with the personal pledges of staff at the hospital have made. The first talk was with the hospital dementia champions and then to doctors with staff from many areas and roles then they were invited to add paper leaves on where they wrote a pledge about what they will do to make a difference to the lives of people with dementia and their carers. Having the pledges visible in the foyer allows the staff to return to the pledge tree and reflect on the pledges they have made. Colchester Daily Gazette also covered the story and you can read about it here.
NHS Ayrshire and Arran
NHS Ayrshire and Arran have shown their commitment to the ‘You Can Make a Difference’ campaign in a variety of ways. The work began when UK Engagement Lead, Tommy Whitelaw was invited by the Chief Executive to give a ‘Make a Difference’ talk in a formal Board meeting. The Board were then invited to start off the process of making a pledge of one thing they would personally do as a Board member to make a difference.
The talks were then given to staff throughout the health board in Kilmarnock and Ayr. Several hundred pledges were gathered as a result, which have been mapped against the 10 key action points for hospitals to give meaning and context to each. They have also been used to create pledge trees which are being displayed throughout the hospital in staff canteens which are also open to the public.
Furthermore, NHS Ayrshire and Arran has made a film in partnership with the ALLIANCE and the University of the West of Scotland which shares the journey of the campaign and the impact it has had on the staff. The video is available to view.
NHS Ayrshire and Arran are currently working with staff to find out staff’s progress with their pledges, the difference they have made and offering support for staff to fulfil their pledges.

Combined NHS
At the Combined NHS Conference this year the pledge work was part of the morning session. Then in the afternoon they were invited to a café style conversation about launching pledge tress and putting pledges into practice. Initially 25 teams across the trust have taken up the initiative.

Morecombe Bay
The team at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust really took forward the Make a Difference message, and asked staff to reflect on their practice the week before attending a talk. A total of 32 pledges trees had been traveling around the trust on the lead up to the talk, generating 640 organisational and personal pledges.  The trees will now be displayed around the trust as a form of values based reflective practice in the hopes of inspiring others.
UHMB also held a follow up event for teams to review and celebrate their dementia pledges. By grouping the 640 pledges into 5 core areas, staff were able to evaluate their work in relation to ‘Environment’, ‘Experience’, ‘Food and Nutrition’, ‘Training’ and ‘Other’. Dementia champions reviewed the pledges in April 2016 and have confirmed a number of pledges have been delivered and are embedded within the trust. The quality committee has now published their six month dementia paper which shows how UHMB have committed to our You Can Make a Difference campaign and embedded its principles within their work in order to promote transformational change.


University of West Scotland
The campaign has been invited to reach different cohorts of students in Ayr, Dumfries, Hamilton, Paisley on a yearly basis, helping to ensure that the next generation of health and social care professionals know the value of lived experience and have a greater understanding of the carer journey, helping to promote person centred care through values based reflection.


West Lothian College
West Lothian College have launched a permanent pledge wall and tree for students to contribute to, making the ‘You Can Make a Difference’ campaign apart of the curriculum. This will allow students and staff to support each other to have values based reflective practice, and continue to base their teaching and learning experience around their pledges.

Care Homes

Hatton Lea Care Home  
Hatton Lea is one of the chosen site for Specialist Dementia Units in Scotland. The staff launched a pledge tree and have monthly meetings around them to start the conversations.

Raith Gates Home
Teresa Easdale, Senior Social Care Worker Fife Council organised an awareness event for staff from 10 care homes from across the Fife area.  The event was fantastic, and we received amazing comments and pledges from people who attended. The response from Elaine Siggers, Unit Manager at Raith Gates Home was fantastic – Elaine put together a pledge tree where we received some beautiful comments and pledges.

Some of the comments from staff:
“I found the talk very moving, and it made me re think about my work practice”
“I felt very emotional whilst writing my pledge about what I could do to make a difference for someone living with Dementia”
“Thought provoking”
“The most inspirational talk I have heard”

Care at Home Teams

UK Engagement Lead Tommy Whitelaw visited Livingston home care team staff on the April 14 2016, after being invited back to speak to a new cohort of staff.
The You Can Make a Difference campaign was used as part of the training package delivered to new home care staff. Inspired by carers’ experiences, Livingston Care Home staff created their own permanent pledge tree to remind staff of their commitment and encourage values based reflection. Children from the local school were invited to take part in creating the tree by designing and painting the flowers, demonstrating how our campaign reaches the entire community embedding the message that everyone can make a difference to the lives of someone with dementia, their family, and carers. We look forward to watching their pledge tree grow, and for their sister sites to create their own trees in Stirling.


Glasgow Housing Association

As part of What matters to you day we worked in partnership with the What matters to you team and Glasgow Housing Association. A tree was launched in the main entrance to the housing office, encouraging residents and staff to share What matters to them and how they will make a difference.


Pollok Community Pledge 
In partnership with Glasgow Clyde College and Humza Yousaf MSP, Minister for Transport and Islands, Dementia Carer Voices launched a community pledge in Pollok, giving constituents the chance to reach out to their neighbours and help reduce isolation and loneliness.
UK Engagement Lead Tommy Whitelaw is a life-long constituent of Pollok, where he was born and later returned to care for his late mum Joan. From the success of our You Can Make a Difference campaign, the team wanted to extend the invitation to the community to make a pledge to the whole community of Pollok, not just to people living with dementia and their carers, but to their neighbours and wider community.
Chaired by Director Irene Oldfather, the event celebrated pledges made by students at the Glasgow Clyde College, introduced participants to their local link worker, and the community assets currently mapped on ALISS. Read more about the day here.
The team were also asked to talk about the community pledge on the John Beattie show on Radio Scotland.

Social Work

Northern Trust (NHSCT) Northern Ireland, for Social Workers

A ‘Roots to Effective Practice’ Workshop was held on September 9 2016 in the Northern Trust (NHSCT) Northern Ireland, for Social Workers who recently completed their Assessed Year in Practice. Social Workers examined the Reflective Practice Model to inform evidence and value based practice, listened to the messages from Tommy Whitelaw and pledged what they will do differently in their practice to promote positive outcomes for service users/carers. Pictured are Workshop Organisers Caroline McGonigle, Social Care Governance Manager, NHSCT; Sonya McGuckin Learning and Development Officer, Social Services Training Department, NHSCT with Tommy Whitelaw BCAh , UK Engagement Lead, Dementia Carer Voices.


Anam Cara, North Ayrshire
The Make a Difference campaign has been taken forward by many individuals who have shared the campaign and actively encouraged others to do so. Claire Mills, who is the manager of Anam Cara Dementia Respite Services organised an incredible day to inspire people to make a pledge to make a difference.
They hosted an afternoon tea session where Tommy gave an awareness talk, followed by a question and answer session where people had a chance to ask questions but in a more relaxed and informal setting. To make room for their adapted housing, the centre had to have cherry trees cut down, and have hired a woodcarver to make a huge jigsaw spelling out Anam Cara with each letter made up of engraved pledges using the wood from these trees, celebrating their commitment to making a difference and encouraging people to participate.
In February 2016 UK Engagement Lead, Tommy, was invited back to unveil the permanent pledge tree wall at the respite service. It is great to see the impact of our ‘You Can Make a Difference’ campaign and that services such as Anam Cara have adopted the principles that everyone can make a difference to a person with dementia, their family, and carer.

Emergency Services

Scottish Ambulance Service
The Scottish Ambulance Service have been fantastic ambassadors, taking forward the message of listening and learning to the voice of lived experience and committing to making a positive difference.

Pauline Howie CEO and Victoria Burnhan, Head of Practice Education & Development at the Scottish Ambulance Service invited the team to give a live Make a Difference webcast to staff across Scotland. This kick-started the new partnership, with Tommy giving awareness talks to staff on a joint tour the following week. This was further complemented by the creation of a new pledge tree to be located at the Scottish Ambulance Service Glasgow Caledonian University, where people will add their pledges and see them every day they go to class, reminding them of their commitment and the inspiration behind them.


Ffion’s Pledge Trees
After attending one of our You Can Make a Difference talks Jules Lewis, End of Life Care Facilitator in Shropshire, took the key message home to her family which inspired her 9 year old daughter Ffion to make pledge trees for staff at Shropshire hospital.
Ffion was then invited to share with her class the key messages behind the pledge tree and was later asked to give a talk at her school assembly.
This story is particularly powerful as it demonstrates the impact that sharing the voice of lived experience can have.
Ffion’s hard work emphasises the translatable nature of the project, engaging with health and social care professionals to young people, meaning our campaign promotes a culture change not only in healthcare but society at large.
With help from her mum, Ffiona put together a guest blog piece:
‘On March 7 2016 I talked to the children and teachers at my school in our school assembly, I told them about your work, your lovey mum and your #Tommyontour. I also showed them one for my personalised dementia pledge trees. I have been making these pledge trees for my mummy’s work friends I make a different one for each person, I put their name on it and l do my signature, the person then writes their own pledge on the tree. I hope my trees make a difference to people who live with dementia.’

There are so many ways to make a positive difference in the lives of others, but we hope that these have inspired you by showing some of the ways people have taken the campaign forward in order to improve the lives of people living with dementia, their families and carers.

The message of the campaign is simple and can be embedded anywhere, from cities to rural areas; from boardroom to bedside. We can make a difference.
For further information on the project, please contact:
Policy & Information Intern
Telephone – 0141 404 0233
For regular updates, please visit the Dementia Carer Voices Blog Site at

About Dementia Carer Voices
Dementia Carer Voices seeks to:
  • Highlight the importance of family carers being enabled after diagnosis to build and sustain a network of support, preventing crisis situations and feel enabled to ask for additional help when it is needed;
  • Capture the experiences of carers across Scotland with a view to informing future policy and service provision;
  • Raise awareness of the issues around caring for someone with dementia including among health and social care students;
  • Empower carers by providing information based on the Charter of Rights and Carer Strategy about caring for someone with dementia;
  • Highlight the role of Carers as natural resources; Carers as people with needs; Carers as people with independent lives;
  • Work with other Carer Organisations and key stakeholders within and beyond the ALLIANCE’s network to ensure that relevant strategies are well informed by the views of service users.
  • Harness the work undertaken to date by the Tommy on Tour campaign, and support Tommy Whitelaw to undertake further outreach work to carer organisations across Scotland.

About the ALLIANCE
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, 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 delivery partner and foster better cross-sector understanding and partnership.
Thanks for reading my blog, You can now view my 8 short flims here!
DCV photo DementiaCarerRGBlandscape3_zpsa2f3d5ff.jpg

Make a Difference talks across Universities and Colleges – the class of 2017

As many people take their first steps into nursing and many other areas of health and social care, Dementia Carer Voices are proud to cont...