Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Meet The Team - Dementia Carer Voices

Dementia Carer Voices, managed by the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE) is a Scottish Government Project funded project to 2016 to engage with Health and Social Care professionals and students to promote a fuller understanding of the carer journey, provide a platform where carers can express their views and experiences of caring for a loved one with dementia and to harness the awareness raising activity undertaken by Tommy Whitelaw.
The project:
  • Captures the experiences of carers across Scotland with a view to informing future policy and service provision
  • Raises awareness of the issues around caring for someone with dementia including among health and social care professionals, students and the wider public
  • Highlights the role of carers as natural resources; carers as people with needs; carers as people with independent lives
  • Empowers carers by providing information based on the Charter of Rights and Carers Strategy about caring for someone with dementia

Meet the team:
photo 28
From left to right: Laura McCulloch,  Tommy Whitelaw, Irene Oldfather, Sarah McDermott
Project Engagement Lead
Policy & Information Assistant
Telephone – 0141 404 0233

I am currently Director at the ALLIANCE leading on Dementia Carer Voices, Prescription for Excellence, Care Opinion and Active Ageing.  Chairing the Scottish National Dementia Carers Action Network (NDCAN) and a member of the Scottish Government Mental Health Strategy short term working group.  I am a member of the Scottish Government Dementia Forum and Strategy and Implementation Group.
Formerly as a Member of the Scottish Parliament, I set up and chaired the Cross Party Group on Alzheimer’s and Dementia which drafted and agreed the Charter of Rights for People with Dementia and their Carers.   As an MSP for 12 years I actively campaigned on the rights of older people and was the first ever Member of the Scottish Parliament to be nominated and shortlisted for Dod’s 2009 UK Parliamentary Award for services to Older People.  My recent publications include, Digital Technology 2014, In Good Faith Building Compassionate Communities July 2013 and PATH to Active Ageing 2012.
I was educated at Strathclyde University, where I obtained an Honours degree in Politics and a post graduate MSc by Research.
I am currently chair of The European Patients’ Academy on Therapeutic Innovation (EUPATI) UK National Liaison Team (NLT). I have been nominated by parliament to the EESC.  My passion is to improve the lives of people with dementia and their carers and to raise awareness of the importance of rights based approaches to ensure vulnerable people are treated with dignity, compassion and respect.

As Administrator for Dementia Carer Voices my role involves a wide range of duties from organising events, coordinating diaries and first point of contact for the team. I like that no two days are the same and working as part of a team.
I joined the ALLIANCE in March 2013 from Devro (Scotland) as the Quality Systems – Administrator, the world of how sausage skins were made was all new to me J but that was the stepping stone into the world of Administration.  Before Devro I worked for Hilton Worldwide as a Data Entry Personnel, mainly operating their website, using various operating systems.
My biggest achievements to date would be obtaining my second class honours degree in Business and Management from Caledonian University in 2008 and passing my driving test,  although not sure who was more excited for that one me or my dad as he now gets to teach me all about cars.
Things I like to do are yoga, dressmaking, cooking/baking and spending time with my two beautiful nieces.  My dreams are to learn to knit.

I’m the Policy and Information Assistant which means that I get to hear people’s stories and opinions. We then use these to influence policy and practice by sharing these experiences with people working in health and social care, in local communities, Third Sector Organisations and the Scottish Government. It is a real privilege to be given an insight to people’s lives that not everyone has the opportunity to have, and this always makes me want to keep working to make sure that these stories are listened to. There is no substitute for real experiences so please do keep them coming!
I’m the newbie of the team – I started here in June last year and I still love coming into work every day. I’m so glad to be part of a team who I can learn from and doing a job that I really feel is making a difference. I studied Law with French at Glasgow University which I really enjoyed, but realised that I felt more drawn to working in the Third Sector. I have always felt passionate about human rights, and wanted to share what I had learned to make more people aware of what this means, as I think it’s sometimes hard to relate laws and rights to everyday life, but they belong to us all!
In my spare time I play whatever instruments I can get my hands on – this is usually guitar nowadays but I taught the bongos one summer and loved it! I lived in the south of France for a year when I was studying and miss the sunshine so I’m always planning my next trip away somewhere. Next stop Peru!

For twenty years I worked in the music industry firstly as a band assistant then Tour Manager and Global Merchandiser from 2007 till 2012.  I was a full time carer for mother Joan who had Vascular Dementia.
Caring for my mum the basis behind my first venture in to the world of awareness raising – the ‘Tommy On Tour’ campaign, which involved collecting life stories and letters from people across Scotland caring for a loved one with dementia. 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.
I have just rediscovered my love for music and I am working hard trying to get fitter, I absolutely love the work I do in many ways a continuation of my previous life with bands but now it’s with and for carers I work with a great team of people and hope we can continue to keep representing the lives and loves stories of the people were so very lucky to meet every day meet.   One of my ambitions is to learn to knit before my team mate Laura.

Dementia Carer Voices engages with Health and Social Care professionals to highlight the importance of a person-centred approach to dementia care, with carers as equal partners. If you would like to organise an event for your staff or colleagues, please .

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

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