Are you a carer?

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

If you're a carer and you'd like to send a letter in, you can post it to Tommy on Tour, 39 crosslee street glasgow g521sl. You can also email it to

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Tomorrow speaking dementia friendly Kent market place launch


With great thanks to Emma Barrett and Kelly Osborn from  the SILK team County hall Maidestone Kent 
For the Kind invite to open and speak at  the Dementia friendly Market place opening Canterbury April 24th 

I met Emma a few weeks  at the NHS Expo after one of my talks at the Dementia Cafe and we had a lovely chat 

So thank you so much Emma ,Kelly NHS in Kent - SILK & Kent County Council for inviting me to take part in the opening of  this exciting new project and I look forward to attending ,speaking and meeting everyone on the day 

Thank you for the kindness 

Thank you - Interviewed earlier today for Nursing Times - NHS employers


I was away very early this morning to Leeds to meet Jenni Middleton Editor of the Nursing Times
At the NHS Employers base to do a filmed interview about caring for my mum to be used / Aired during dementia awareness week 

With great thanks to Jenni  for the kind and understanding interview earlier today in Leeds and to scott for all the hard work setting up and filming - I am nervously looking forward to the final edit 

A big thank you also to Dean Royles Chief exec of NHS employers  for popping in for a chat during recording and his team for setting this up along with Jenni 

have  been following Jenni on twitter for quite some time now and we met in person a few weeks back at the NHS  Expo 2014 in Manchester 

Thank you Jenny for this opportunity and to Scott for all the setting up and still to do editing  

I think the interview will be published / aired during International Nurses week May 5th - May 12th 

You can follow Jenni  Dean and scott  on Twitter via 
Jenni @nursingtimesed 

Dean @NHSE_Dean 

Scott @NHSE_Scott 

You can view the Nursing Times Web - site here

You can view NHS Employers web - site here

May 13th Birmingham Heartlands Hospital to unveil plaque Naming new reminiscence wing in Memory of my mum

A few months back I was contacted by  Dr Dawn Chaplin Head Nurse Patient Experience/Clinical Dean for Nursing  Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust and ward sister Helen Seymour to say they would like to name the new therapeutic reminiscence room in memory of my mum ‘The Joan Whitelaw room ‘ after a few tears I replied to say how honoured I feel as a son and thank you

The plaque will be unveiled on May the 13th 2014 

The Joan Whitelaw Reminiscence Rooms 

In Memory of Joan Whitelaw, an Inspirational Mother

And in recognition of her Inspirational Son and Carer, Tommy Whitelaw


Caring for Carers:

To ListenTo UnderstandTo Support


Promoting Compassionate Care for all in Hospital

in fact a few tears are coming as I type this

I had the great privilege to speak at the hospitial  a few months back  for Sam Foster and Diane Eltringham in the lecture theatre and met the  great kind caring compassionate  team who work there
Dawn, Helen and the team  have been using our short films and got to know my mum and our story and have so kindly asked to remember mum is such a special way 

Thank you Dawn ,Helen, Sam, Diane and all the team at  Birmingham Heartlands Hospital you have brought a smile to a sons heart today I look forward to coming down later this year to speak at the conference and for the unveiling of the plaque by Helen and say thank you in person

Thank you for the great kindness thank you from a son and from my heart “the kindness of people “

Thank you Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust


Sunday, 20 April 2014

Thank You - Earlier Today Speaking St Johns Hospital Lecture theater


With great thanks to Jacqueline Ball ,Gillian Henderson. Maple Villa Livingston Dementia unit and  NHS Lothian for the kind invite and for arranging a talk earlier today at  St Johns Hospital Lecture theater 

A big thank you to all who took time to attend today and for the great kndness 

Thank you 


A few of the kind people who took time to attend today 

Caring For a Loved One with Dementia - are you a carer ? Have you cared for a loved one - can you help


I cared for my amazing wee mum for nearly five years and like so many others faced countless struggles on the way. This campaign has allowed me to meet amazing, loving, caring people all across the country going through and supporting others with similar experiences.
I want use the information, thoughts and opinions from Carers -  carer groups, professionals and families I meet and share these with the people who can make a difference to the lives of people affected by dementia. My story is not enough you can help and be part of this opportunity to describe living with and caring for a loved one with this condition.
I also want to promote the good services that already exist in the hope it encourages other to go and get the help already in place and they deserve.
Please help. Get in touch share you’re story tell me about services in place that bring comfort and help to you, lets work on the negatives and promote the positives and celebrate the good help and service we have so others can know about and access them.
When I was caring, I did not know what help was available and even when I did was uncomfortable with asking for help,I don’t want others to live the way we lived, I want them to know about  help they can get and let them know from a carers’ point of view the difference a little bit of help and understanding can make to your life. 
There are many things I personally wish where in place to bring help and comfort, but for me not knowing or having access to help that already exists is a tragedy in itself
You can share you story - experiences good or bad via


Thursday, 17 April 2014

Holiday weekend, still not sure what that means


Firstly I wish all a lovely  holiday weekend .I was out today doing a talk then filming and on my way home on the bus the chatter from people planning their long weekends made me smile 

As I got home  as always happens my wee mum was on my mind,I have yet to open this front door without a sadness hitting me is some way shape or form

5 years of dementia and caring ,weekends, weekdays, bank holidays ,holiday weekends they all blended into one.

We could not differentiate .they where just days to try our best to get through,And that’s the 
great sadness.of course we had good days ,we certainly had love but looking back they where just a fog of  
not understanding,loneliness and fear. 

This is something we have to change, we have to make the hard days better for people, and we have to make the days caring for a loved one  not something we struggle  to get through hoping if we make it through today we just might make it through tomorrow 

 We have to support. People  to have more time to love and cherish 

Even now 15 months  after my wee mum passed away weekends and week days are all the same to me

It was Easter 2012  that a big change came to us  as they had so often before ,but this time I knew in my heart there where not many more big changes my mum could take

From  Easter  my mum was  pretty much confided to her room and bed .I took a wee photo that day as I gave mum her wee egg knowing dementia and time was truly against us and in my heart I knew it would be our last easter together  and I miss her sitting here just now 

I miss mums kindness her love her care and the great mum she was.The the loneliness we felt over the last years was in many ways  a rehearsal for how lonely life can be when a best pal is no longer here


Speaking Care Inspectorate Conference May 7th - Shifting Landscapes of Dementia Care

Shifting Landscapes of Dementia Care Conference

Venue: Westpark Conference Centre, Dundee
Date: Wednesday 7 May 2014
Time: 9am – 4pm

Approximately 88,000 people have dementia in Scotland.  Around 3,200 of these people are under the age of 65.  About 191,000 people work in social care and social work, and between 60 and 80% of the workforce are likely to work with people with dementia in some way.

We are committed to supporting improvements in dementia care and are pleased to be hosting a conference that highlights best practice.  

The conference will:
  • cover a range of topics that promotes wellbeing and person-centred care for people living with dementia
  • share learning opportunities with you to keep the experience of the person with dementia at the heart of what we do.  

The Dementia Standards and Promoting Excellence Framework have been with us since 2011.  Scotland is now on its second dementia strategy taking us though to 2016. We are now seeing many services that are using the Promoting Excellence Framework to develop their workforce to meet the needs of people with dementia in a supportive and person-centered way.

Person-centred care is now associated with quality dementia care, however underpinning all of this has to be a strong human rights framework.  We are committed to ensuring that the rights of people with dementia are recognised and respected.

Who is it for?

This conference aims to bring together a range of people for whom improving dementia care and support is a priority.

You will find this event useful if you support people with dementia in social care and health. People with dementia and their carers who have an interest in how we are working to improve dementia care services are also welcome.

Please register your interest in attending our conference here

Closing date for applications Friday 4 April 


9.00 – 9.45
Arrival and refreshments

9.45 – 10.15

Karen Anderson, Director of Strategic Develoment / Deputy Chief Executive, Care Inspectorate

10.15 – 11.00
'Risks, Rights and People Living with Dementia'

11.00 – 11.20

11.20 – 12.30
Workshop – session 1

12.30 – 13.30

13.30 – 14.45
Workshop – session 2

14.45 – 15.30
‘Seeing Auntie’
Naomi Breeze
Breeze Productions

15.30 – 16.00
‘You can make a difference’

16.00 - 16.15
Reflections and close

Robert Peat, Director of Inspection, Care Inspectorate


Please register your interest in attending our conferencehere

Closing date for applications Friday 4 April


Professor Charlotte Clarke

Charlotte has an interest in research that concerns the health and wellbeing of older people.  Much of her work focuses on dementia care, and draws on several social science theoretical bases such as risk theory.  She prefers working in multi-disciplinary teams and uses her background as a nurse to address research questions about the experiences of ageing and living with a long term condition and the ways in which services can best meet peoples’ needs.

Charlotte qualified as a nurse in 1986 from what was then called Glasgow College of Technology.  She worked clinically for a number of years before moving into roles that focused on education and research. She joined the University of Edinburgh in 2011 as Head of the School of Health in Social Science.  Prior to this, she worked as Associate Dean (Research) at Northumbria University, leading a substantial and successful research centre.  A part-time PhD studentship funded by the then Regional Health Authority focused on the experiences of carers of people with dementia.

She also works with the National Institute for Health Research as Chair of the NE Research for Patient Benefit Committee, and was Associate Director of FUSE (a UKCRC funded Centre for Translational Research in Public Health).

Breeze Productions

Naomi Breeze established Breeze Productions in 2002, a professional theatre company based in the UK.  Naomi is a graduate of The Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama and a member of British Actors Equity.

The theatre company writes, produces, performs and tours its own original one person plays and specialises in creating plays on virtually any theme for any event or occasion.  Since 2002, Breeze Productions has worked for a wide range of voluntary, statutory organisations, criminal justice and businesses to help to raise awareness of many issues.  These include arts, health, education, social work and housing services in and around 20 local authorities.

'Seeing Auntie' focuses on the lives of a family, one of whom has dementia.  The play promotes awareness of people with dementia and their carers.  The powerful play gives you the opportunity to learn from the experience of a woman whose beloved Auntie develops dementia and traces the impact of the dementia journey on the whole family.

Tommy Whitelaw

For 20 years, Tommy Whitelaw worked in the music industry running merchandising operations on international tours for artists including Spice Girls, McFly, Kylie and U2.  His life changed dramatically in 2007 when he returned to Glasgow to become a full time carer for his mum Joan who had vascular dementia, up until she sadly passed away in September 2012.

Tommy’s struggle through this difficult and isolating experience has led to him becoming a tireless campaigner raising awareness of the issues surrounding dementia.  His ‘Tommy on Tour’ campaign saw him walk across Scotland’s towns and cities to collect hundreds of life story letters from people across Scotland providing an insight into the issues and challenges faced with those coping with Dementia and those caring for those with Dementia.

Now, as Project Officer of the Health and Social Care Alliance’s Dementia Carer Voices Project, Tommy continues to travel the length and breadth of the country to speak to carers groups, health and social care professionals and students as well as key decision-makers who have influence over the lives of people affected by dementia.  He continues to gather carer’s experiences, and shares them with those who can make life better for carers and the people they support.

You Can Make A Difference - You can View the First 350 Pledges Here

A BIG thank you from  the heart to everyone who has made a pledge so far ,for our  You Can Make A Difference Campaign and tour 
you can read the pledges via the links below along with information and photos from the talks 
you can also get  more information  and dates for the tour please at the link here

thank you for the support ,kindness ,pledges and for making a difference 
You can send your pledge to us via email  to
19.02.14 NHS Fife
(08 -10).04.14 NHS Dumfries & Galloway 

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Speaking Wolfson Lecture Theatre, Post Graduate Centre, City Hospital, Dudley Road, Birmingham June 18th



With great thanks to Estelle Greenwood Project Facilitator  Nursing Division City hospital Birmingham 

For the kind invite to speak On Wednesday 18th June 2014 - Wolfson  Lecture Theatre, Post Graduate Centre, City Hospital, Dudley Road, Birmingham



Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust recently submitted a bid to the Department of Health and secured funds from the Improving the Environment of Care for People with Dementia”.  


Since September last year, and in line with the Kings Fund, the Trust has undertaken major works and refurbished 12 of our wards and public areas across all our sites including Leasowes Intermediate Care Centre, City Hospital, Sandwell General Hospital and Rowley Regis.



The aim now is to ensure that we provide the right care for patients with dementia within  the Trust and community.  We are therefore pleased to invite you to:-


“The Dementia Theatre”

On Wednesday 18th June 2014

Wolfson Lecture Theatre, Post Graduate Centre,

City Hospital, Dudley Road, Birmingham, B18 7QH

8.30 am – 11.30 am




Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Make a Difference Tour -New Talks Added 95 talks


You can make a difference!  

                            That’s what I want people to know and is the theme of my tour 2014

Time, listening and understanding can make an unimaginable difference during what can be a very difficult and lonely journey. Over and above policies, strategies or reports it’s people who have the potential to transform the lives and experiences of others.  It makes me smile to think about the special people who helped me whilst I was a carer, the thousands out there helping others in the same manner, and the students who make up our next generation of caring professionals.

At the end of  my talks I will be asking peolpe who attend to think about what they could do to make a difference to others. 
This will be a new theme going forward and the basis for talks in 2014  -  No matter what your role,

“What difference can YOU make to the lives of others?”

Since my walk to collect life stories I have been receiving letters life and love stories therefore will you help me answer those letters, will you help with a pledge to make a difference. 

If you do my promise is as with the letters I received to take those pledges across the country raise awareness and I hope inspire others to make a difference. 

Will you make a pledge to make a difference as part of our tour 2014? 

You can make your pledge at

visit the " you can make a difference " pledge page

Some confirmed dates for talks for the "You can make a difference tour " 2014 pledges

             20.01.14  Letters, Life and Love Stories Concert    
·         21.01.14  Spoke at Peace Hospice, Watford    
·         22.01.14  Spoke at 6C's Live Event, London  
·         27.01.14  Spoke at Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham  
·         28.01.14  Spoke at BCDA dignity event, Birmingham 
·         03.02.14  University of Edinburgh - Nursing Students 
·         04.02.14  Stow College - Health and Social Care Students   
·         05.02.14  St Andrew's Hospice - Airdrie  
·         06.02.14  Presentation to Crosshouse Hospital NHSaaa  
·         06.02.14  University of Abertay    
·         17.02.14  Royal College of Nursing  
·         18.02.14  8 Pillar Test Sites Learning Session 1  
·         19.02.14  NHS Fife - Dementia Champions  
·         20.02.14  University of Edinburgh - MSC Integrated Service Improvement  
·         24.02.14  NHS Highland Palliative Care Event 
·         25.02.14 NHS Grampian/ Robert Gordon University NHS Grampian - Presentation  to board and 4 talks at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary to medical students in ARI.
·         26.02.14  NHS Grampian / Robert Gordon University - Moray College Elgin and Acorn Centre Inverurie
·         27.02.14  NHS Grampian / Robert Gordon University – 4 talks to nursing students 
·         03.03.14  NHS England Expo Manchester
·         04.03.14   NHS England Expo Manchester
·         05.03.14  Inverary Talk - Caring Connections and the focus is on creating a person centred network in Argyll and Bute, across health, social care and third sector 
·         07.03.14  Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh  
·         11.03.14  Senior Charge Nurses event – Beardmore Conference Centre  
·         12.03.14  Monklands Hospital, Airdrie  
·         17.03.14  Reid Kerr Collage Nursing Students
·         17.03.14  NHSGGC Tour Western Infirmary 3rd Floor Function Suite 1-2pm and 2.30-3.30pm (2 talks)
·         18.03.14  NHSGGC Tour Inverclyde Royal IRH Education Centre Upstairs 1-2pm and 2.30-3.30pm (2 talks)
·         19.03.14  Year 1 addiction sessions - Glasgow Caledonian University  
·         20.03.14  NHSGGC Tour Royal Alexandria Hospital Medical Education Lecture Theatre 1-2pm and 2.30-3.30pm (2 talks)
·         21.03.14  Gartnavel General Hospital Lecture Theatre Post Graduate Centre 1-2pm and 2.30-3.30pm (2 talks)
·         24.03.14  NHSGGC Tour Western Infirmary 3rd Floor Function Suite 1-2pm and 2.30-3.30pm (2 talks)
·         26.03.14  Dementia Post-Diagnostic Support HEAT Target Event - Beardmore Conference Centre  
·         28.03.14  James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough  
·         31.03.14  NHSGGC Tour Royal Alexandria Hospital Lecture Theatre 2 1-2pm and 2.30-3.30pm (2 talks)   
·         01.04.14  NHSGGC Tour Gartnavel General Hospital Boardroom 1-2pm and 2.30-3.30pm (2 talks)   
·         02.04.14. NHSGGC Tour Western Infirmary 3rd Floor Function Suite 1-2pm and 2.30-3.30pm (2 talks)
·         03.04.14  OT forum East Renfrewshire (morning)
·         08.04.14  NHSD&G Tour - Waverly Medical Centre Open session x2 and Palmerston Football Club Closed Session (Invite only)
·         09.04.14 NHSD&G Tour - Conference Room Crichton Hall Open session x2 and Alzheimer Scotland Resource Centre, Gordon Street meet and greet with lunch.
·         10.04.14  NHSD&G Tour - Tribunal Room Midpark Hospital Open session, Conference room Crichton Hall Session with dementia champions and Howgill Centre, Treastaigh, Annan Open session
·         10.04.14 Masterclass Caledonian University
·         21.04.14 Maple Villa Livingston Dementia unit for challenging behaviours
·         22.04.14 speaking Sandywells NHSGG staff conference
·         24.04.14 Speaking opening of Dementia Friendly Kent
·         28.04.14  NHSGGC Tour Glasgow Royal Infirmary Boardroom 1-2pm and 2.30-3.30pm (2 talks)    
·         29.04.14. NHSGGC Tour Victoria Infirmary Practice Development Classroom 1-2pm and 2.30-3.30pm (2 talks) 
·         30.04.14. NHSGGC Tour Vale of Leven MR1 1-2pm and 2.30-3.30pm (2 talks)
·         06.05.14 Hosting Webinar NHS England Leeds International Nurses week  
·         06.05.14  NHSGGC Tour  Glasgow Royal Infirmary Boardroom 1-2pm and 2.30-3.30pm (2 talks)    
·         01.05.14 speaking Sunshine    House Wigan
·         07.05.14 Speaking Care Inspectorate Conference  
·         08.05.14 NHS Borders Dementia Awareness Event 
·         09.05.14  NHSAA Crosshouse Hospital
       09.05.14 Attending Scotland's Heroes Awards ( Nominated ) 
·         14.05.14  Scottish Practice Nurse Association Conference – Perth
·         15.05.14  NHSAA Ayr Hospital
·         19.05.14  ALLIANCE Annual Conference – Pollock Halls Edinburgh
·         21.05.14  NHSGGC Annual Mental Health Clinical Governance Event - GTG Conference Centre, South St
      22.05.14 Ardeer Centre Stevenson 
·         22.05.14  NHSAA Crosshouse Hospital ( afternoon ) 
·         27.05.14  NHSAA Ayr Hospital
·         03.06.14  NHS Annual Conference
·         04.06.14  NHS Annual Conference
·         06.06.14  NHSGGC Podiatry Development Day
·         11.06.14  NHSAA Ayr Hospital 
      12.06.14 Brooksby Medical Center Largs
#     13.06.14 Borders Voluntary Care Voice
17.06.15 speaking Social Workers Birmingham  
·         18.06.14  Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust and Rowley Regis Hospital
·         19.06.14 Meeting Cabinet Secretary for Health Parliament
·                20.06.14   NHSAA Crosshouse Hospital
·         26.06.14  NHSAA Ayr Hospital
·         30.06.14  NHSAA Crosshouse Hospital
·         02.07.14  Dementia CafĂ© with Croy, Ayrshire
·         08.10.14  6Cs Live conference in Birmingham NHS England

·         31.10.14  Citizens Advice Direct AGM