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

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Speaking Royal College Of Nursing Derbyshire Branch End Of Life Care Conference Dec4th


With great thanks to Jackie Eades Branch Chair of the Royal College Of Nursing Derbyshire Branch 
for the Kind Invite to attend and speak at the Derbyshire Branch end of life care conference on December 4th

I Look forward to attending ,Learning ,meeting everyone and speaking 


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

Thank you East and North Herts NHS Trust StudentConference Lister Hospital



With great thanks to Carolyn Fowler Assistant Director of Nursing, Education and Research East & North Herts NHS Trust and Wendy Fowler nurse education for the kind invite to speak at Student conference Lister Hosptial Today 

And a BIG thank you from my heart to all the inspiring students and staff I had the privilege to meet today 

I had the great privilege speak at meet and listen to Caroylin speaking at a patients stories conference a few months  back and I was very honored to be invited to speak today at the student conference 

I travelled back to Glasgow with a smile in my heart tonight 

 Thank you Carolyn,Wendy all the amazing people I met today the inspiring pledges and all at East & North Herts NHS Trust for the kind invite 

Thank you 



Wednesday, 19 November 2014

NHSAAA - People-pledges-Films-Kindness and making a difference -Thank You

I am truly honored to be able   share a preview of the upcoming ‘Make a Difference’ Film being made with NHS Ayrshire and Arran and the University of the West of Scotland.
The film will hear from and  follow staff as they speak about and make their pledges and will see how they progress in fulfilling them. This will give a real insight into the ways in which people can make a difference in their daily lives, and crucially gives the opportunity for people to give honest feedback in real time about any potential barriers that make it harder for them to fulfil their pledge. NHS Ayrshire and Arran are committed to supporting staff on their ‘make a difference’ journey, 
I personally like like to say a huge thank you  from the bottom of my heart  to the all the team for their continued passion ,kindness guidance & support, particularly Derek Barron, Fiona McQueen, Janice McAlister, Amanda Johnson and Lynne McLaughlin. 
I am so glad to have met you all ,this campaign is called you can make a difference and you have helped make a difference in my life thank you 
  The team at NHSaaa will now work with staff to help to make sure that people are given the best opportunity to fulfill their pledges and give the best support and care, and to make a difference in the lives of people with dementia, their families and carers.
You can click on the image Below to preview the  trailer for a longer film which will be launched on 12th December in NHS Ayrshire and Arran University Hospital Ayr lecture theatre.
make a difference film

myself and all the team at Dementia Carer Voices would like like to say a massive thank you to all those who have taken the time to listen, and to make a pledge – we really can make a difference.
photo 8
The Story So Far…
The team at NHS Ayrshire and Arran not only invited Tommy to share his experiences, but have shown their commitment to listening to the experiences of patients and carers, and supporting staff to make a difference. This support has been from every level within NHS Ayrshire and Arran, as Tommy was invited by the Chief Executive to lead off his ‘staff talks’ by giving a talk in a formal Board meeting, where they started off the process of making a pledge.  This enthusiasm has been reflected throughout the organisation, with Senior Charge Nurse Lynsey Renfrew  encouraging staff to attend and even taking a pledge tree for her ward so that all of her colleagues there can reflect on the difference that they can make to the lives of the people they work with.
Each pledge that we have collected represents a huge milestone not just for the campaign but for the people of Ayrshire and Arran. The team at NHS A&A have aligned the pledges to their 10 Key Action Points to showcase how both the pledges and the Action Points can be fulfilled, giving meaning and context to each other.
photo 10               photo 10
At the talks, the staff were encouraged to make a pledge and hang it on one of the pledge trees, which are now being displayed in dining rooms which are open to both staff and the public.
photo 9
NHS Ayrshire & Arran have an intranet site which now displays all of the pledges that have been made during the tour so that staff can view them.  In six months, these will be re-circulated and staff will be asked to review their pledges and say if they have met their pledge. This feedback will be gathered anonymously to promote honesty and open up a dialogue as to how staff can be supported to keep their pledges.
Tommy has spoken to over 500 staff at 12 talks, ranging from nurses, allied health professionals, medics, students, administration and support staff, social work, fire and rescue and police colleagues.
Furthermore, 2 talks were given to 145 students to students in partnership with the University of the West of Scotland, where we were supported by Janice McAlister, NHSaaa Dementia Nurse Consultant, and Suzanne Holland, who teaches the Care of Vulnerable People course at the university.
The campaign also made a stop at the Ayrshire Occupational Therapists Seminar, taking the message throughout the area to make sure that no matter what their role, people in Ayrhire and Arran were given the opportunity to reflect on carers experiences and encouraged to make a difference.
Fiona McQueen’s ‘Viewpoint’ blog piece spoke of the NHSaaa experience has had over 5000 hits, with over 900 retweets on Twitter. The use of social media in particular has been a great tool for sharing information and creating an easy way for people to get involved and to speak to others who are keen to make a difference. From tweets to wordeo clips, the campaign has really been strengthened and accessible to staff and members of the public alike.
Thank you again to everyone involved - we really can make a difference.

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

My Name is Tommy,I cared for my wonderful mum Joan-This is our campaign

My name is Tommy Whitelaw, and for five years I was a full-time carer for my mother Joan, up until she sadly passed away in September 2012.
At the time my Mum was diagnosed with vascular dementia, I looked at her and thought to myself “it’ll be okay, we’ll get through this.” What I soon learned as her carer, was that dementia was an unpredictable illness which brought many challenges and forced us to adapt to ever-changing routines. Many days we would wake up to discover that everything we had grown accustomed to have suddenly changed again.

I wondered whether the struggles I faced were mine and mine alone, and how other carers who had been through the same journey as I was embarking on, had managed to cope. This was the basis behind my first venture in to the world of awareness raising - the ‘Tommy On Tour’ campaign, which involved collecting life story letters from people across Scotland caring for a loved one with dementia. 

The hundreds of letters I received let me know that the challenges I faced were far from unique to my own situation and I have to say meeting and speaking to others in the same situation was one of the most beneficial things I could have done.

An issue that struck me during my journey caring for my Mum was the lack of awareness and understanding of dementia and the way in which we perceive this illness as a wider society.  My door was always open but no one walked through it, people didn’t come to visit us anymore and I truly believe that was down to the stigma surrounding the illness.

Everyone affected by dementia has a unique story to tell and by sharing our experiences we can help to tackle the misunderstandings surrounding dementia and offer hope to people in the same situation.

This is something I am passionate about promoting as I build on my previous awareness raising work, as Project Engagement lead of the Health and Social Care ALLIANCE’s Dementia Carer Voices Project.  A three year project To harness the work of Thomas whitelaw 

The project provides a platform upon which carers can express their views and experiences of caring for a loved one living with dementia, with a view to raising awareness among health and social care professionals, and wider society of its impact on families and the importance of empowering carers in carrying out this difficult but vital role.

A key focus of my talks is to highlight the impact that inspirational health and social care professionals can make to the journeys of carers across Scotland. People who appreciate and understand the unique challenges that dementia brings can be there to prop you up, and I absolutely believe as a carer if I was propped up a little bit with the right help and support, I could have given my Mum the best care and support in the world.

The experience of caring for my Mum undoubtedly brought great challenges, stress, isolation and sadness, but it was a role carried out through love and we enjoyed touching moments of joy and satisfaction. Those special moments live long in my memory, and gave me a real boost of strength to get through the difficult times, and continue to do so now.

Make A Difference Campaign 2014 
We launched the ‘You Can Make a Difference’ Campaign in February of this year and it has been so inspiring to see it grow. Tommy Whitelaw has given over 100 talks already this year, with 170 scheduled in total, and we wanted to really thank those who have gotten involved and made it all possible. The talks involve  Tommy sharing his own personal experiences from caring and the experiences of others who have written to him since he went on tour in 2011, to help people understand some of the issues that carers face, and what we can all do to help overcome these issues.
The campaign  has really shown the difference that every single person can make, no matter how small it may seem. This has been through asking people to reflect on carers experiences, and tomake a pledge about one key action they could take to really have a positive impact in the lives of others. Some of the pledges have been about a simple change in attitude such as “I pledge to listen with open ears and open heart.” This type of change is one that we can all implement in our own lives, no matter who we are, where we live, or what we do.
Dementia Carer Voices to harness the work of Tommy On Tour 

You Can Make A Difference Campaign Tour Dates 2014 140-  talks 

The kindness of people

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

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Speaking NHSGGC Person Centred Health and Care Collaborative learn andshare event Dec 2nd


With great thanks to Ann McLinton person centered health and care programme manager NHSGGC 
and Lisa Curtice programme  Director – People Powered Health and Wellbeing for the kind invite to speak at the Person Centered Health and Care Collaborative NHSGG learn and share event on December 2nd 

I am very honored to be asked to speak about caring for my mum and our ' You Can Make A Difference ' campaign 

Thank you Ann ,Lisa and all involved for the kind invite 



Speaking 2 talks Junior Doctors Sandwell and West Birmingham hospitals NHS Trust Dec 9th


With great thanks to Dr Saket Singhall and Estelle Greenwood Project Facilitator Corporate Nursing Division for the kind invite to give two talks to Junior Doctors across Sandwell and West Birmingham hospitals NHS Trusts on December 9th

I have had the great privilege to speak twice before for Estelle and the Trust at the Dementia Theatre events ,You can read more about the previous talks and pledges HERE  

Thank you Dr Saket and Estelle for the kind invite back 

My mums name was Joan Whitelaw - our 7 short films

Tommy’s speech, providing a carer’s perspective,  on the theme of “No – one ever asked >” highlighted the transformational impact that listening, kindness and understanding made to his journey as a carer, and the importance of looking beyond a person’s diagnosis to engage with them as an individual.

If you would like to access further information about the Collaborative and to view presentations from the latest learning session, please click here.

In 2011 Tommy produced a short film in conjunction with Alzheimer Scotland. The video, which was later shown at the Scottish Parliament, includes families and carers reading from the letters they sent him during his dementia awareness tour of Scotland’s towns and cities. To view the FILM

  Interview for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Patients’ Stories Library
The NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde's Patients' Stories Library for Hospital Staff aims to use patients’ and carers’ experiences to look at how acute services can be improved.
Tommy shared his story with frontline staff working across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, including the Ward staff that cared for his mother at the Southern General hospital. His film interview was also shown across a number of NHSGGC hospital sites during Carers Week 2013 to help raise awareness amongst staff about the importance of supporting carers in contributing to delivering person centred care.

 It’s Ok to Ask for Help!

The It’s Ok to Ask DVD produced by NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Glasgow City Council, The Alliance and Alzheimer Scotland uses carers’ experiences to highlight the benefits of using carer support services in Glasgow, and encourages people to ask for help. Tommy Whitelaw, Alliance Scotland, shares experiences of looking after a partner, parent, relative, friend or neighbour with dementia. Other carers tell us about help they get from support services in Glasgow. FILM

Speaking Care Inspectorate Seminar 

Published on 7 Nov 2013
Tommy recently spoke to our inspection team to talk about his experiences of caring for his mum Joan Whitelaw, who died last year after living with dementia for several years. He spoke about the difficulties he had getting the right services for his mum at the right time and how this led him to take his dementia awareness campaign "On Tour"

National Dementia Awareness Week 2014 (England) – NHS Employers Nursing Times - my Filmed interview

To mark National Dementia Awareness Week which runs from 18 to 24 May, NHS Employers the Nursing Times are working with the Alzheimer’s Society to promote resources available to NHS organisations and the NHS workforce.
As part of this activity, they have specially commissioned a short video of an interview with Dementia Carer Voices’ very own Tommy Whitelaw.

You can get more information here on NHS Employers 
This video was made to mark this year’s Dementia Awareness week 

You can click on the image Below to preview the  trailer for a longer film which will be launched on 12th December in NHS Ayrshire and Arran University Hospital Ayr lecture theatre.
make a difference film

Monday, 17 November 2014

27th Nov consultation event on the on the Standards for Older People in Acute Care at The Alliance Scotland

Everyone using healthcare services in Scotland is entitled to the same level of care regardless of their age, however, it is recognised that older people are admitted more often to hospital, and can face problems not experienced by other user groups – for example rehabilitation and discharge.
Healthcare Improvement Scotland is in the process of revising the 2002 “Clinical Standards for Older People in Acute Care” and have produced a set of draft standards for consultation. These are now available for download and comment from the Healthcare Improvement Scotland website, at >
Acute care is defined as when a person is treated for an immediate and severe episode of illness, recovery from surgery or from injuries sustained in an accident. Acute care is usually given in a hospital and is often for only a short time.
The ALLIANCE and Healthcare Improvement Scotland will be holding a consultation event on the on the Standards for Older People in Acute Care, which aims to find out what people think of the revised standards, if they reflect what people would like to see, and to use this feedback to shape the updated standards before they are finalised.
What do the draft standards focus on?
Adopting a person centred approach by involving patients and carers in every decision about their care and treatment throughout their journey of care. To help focus attention on this aim at each stage of the patient journey we have listed the essential criteria under the following four themes:
1.        Person centred care – dignity, respect and compassion for older people using hospital services
2.        Safe and effective care – older people are cared for in the right place at the right time
3.        Admission to hospital – older people are assessed to quickly determine the treatment required
4.        Discharge from hospital – older people are supported during their rehabilitation and return home

The consultation event will take place in Glasgow on 27th November between 11 - 14.00, lunch will be provided. To register your interest please contact:

Thanks for reading my blog, You can now view my 8 short flims here!
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wednesday Speaking Tayside wide Podiatry Development Day on Dementia #AHPS


With great thanks to  Liz Oakley Specialist Podiatrist Perth & Kinross CHP NHS Tayside for the kind invite to speak at the Tayside wide Podiatry Development Day on Dementia  November 17th

A big thank you also to Shelagh Creegan AHP national lead NHS Tayside for the kind introduction you can follow Shelagh on twitter @ShelaghAHP or follow her blog here
The event will be held  Riverside Church and there will be approximately 70 Podiatrists from across Tayside at the event  
I look very much forward to attending, Learning ,Listening and speaking

Thank you Liz for the kind invite and opportunity 


Wednesday 19 November 2014
Riverside Chuch, Bute Drive, Perth, PH1 3BG


8.30am-8.50am                    Registration

8:50am-9.00am                    House Keeping

9.00am-10.00am                  “You Can Make a Difference” Tour – A                                                       personal account of caring for someone with                                           dementia – Tommy Whitelaw

10.00am-10.45am                “Make Every Moment Count” - Edith                                                           MacIntosh – Rehabilitation Consultant                                                       Care Inspectorate

10.45am-11.00am                Coffee

11.00am-12noon                  Promoting Excellence Level 1 Training –                                                   Fiona Matthew – Alzheimer Scotland                                                                    Dementia Advisor, Rachel Milne – Senior                                                   Charge Nurse – Care Home Advisor, Valerie                                              Nelson – Learning Development Officer/MHO                                               Perth & Kinross Council

12noon-1.00pm                             Lunch

1.00pm-2.45pm                    Promoting Excellence

2.45pm-3.00pm                    Comfort Break

3.00pm-4.00pm                    Communication and Behaviour – Valerie                                                   Nelson

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

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Today Speaking University of Glasgow School of Nursing


With Great thanks to Jane Joy senior Lecturer Glasgow University School of Nursing for the kind invite to speak  to Nursing students on Monday 

I have had the great honor to speak at the University a few times before in fact I was a guest speaker a few weeks back at a  staff nurse development day

A big thank you to all who took time to attend that day for the kindness and for the pledges
you can view the pledges from today HERE 

last year I had the great privilege to give two talks at the University one to students and the other at a nurse development day ( a wee photo below with some of the students) 

in fact I am working with the University on the letters I receive  

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

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

DCV Speaking at the Paradigm in Dementia Care and Support – driving innovation in education conference Dec 2nd


With great thanks to  Susanne Forrest | Programme Director | NHS Education for Scotland for the kind invite  for Dementia Carer Voices to attend and speak at The  Shifting the Paradigm in Dementia Care and Support – driving innovation in education conference Dec 2nd

My Mentor and ALLIANCE Dierector  Irene Oldfather who is also giving a talk  on Rights on the day 
will  also speak about our ' Make a difference ' campaign and the wider project


We are also very honored to attend the Promoting excellence Programme board meetings and I also promote this initiative  on my tour and our stands 

Thank you Sussane for the kind opportunity to speak about " making a difference "