Monday, 25 January 2016

Guest post - Has the Time Come for Scotland to have a Commissioner for Older People?

Today's post is from Alliance Director ,my Friend and Mentor Irene Oldfather @ireneoldfather  

Irene and I have been friends  since 2011 and have worked together since. 2012  

Has the Time Come for Scotland to have a Commissioner for Older People?


It is with some dismay that I read Healthcare Improvement Scotland’s Audit of Care of Older People in Acute hospitals over a period of some 8 months. (HIS Care for Older People in Acute Hospitals Healthcare Improvement Scotland Audit Aug 2012-April 2013. Published July 2013).



While there was some recorded good practice which identified 25 specific areas of strength across 8 inspections carried out, there wereregrettably 87 areas identified for improvement, including issues such as “staff not always using appropriate and respectful language when referring to older people in hospital.”


In three hospitals, inspection staff found alack of meaningful stimulation and activity for patients and across all hospitals inspected, staff were not completing food and fluid balance charts accurately or consistently.


This inspection audit comes some five years after the Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Alzheimer’s, which I chaired, produced a report with recommendations on how we can improve the hospital experience of older people with Dementia.



The report recognised that with simple measures, we can save lives – minimising hospital moves, ensuring good hydration and nutrition,  understanding the importance of exercise and stimulation. 


We know that increased mortality rates, higher re admission rates and functional decline are all associated with this vulnerable patient group who are particularly subject to adverse incidents in hospital. The Report was launched in 2009 and was accepted in full by the Scottish Government. It should be operational in every Health Board in Scotland. So why do we still read of so many system failures?


Older and Wiser, Pressure for Change, Starved of Care, Remember I’m Still Me – previous Inspection Reports from the Care and Mental Welfare Commissions - all make for distressing reading. Regrettably despite a highly developed Policy Structure which includes, - the National Dementia Strategy, the Charter of Rights and the Dementia Standards, we still see Inspection Reports containing damning information about our older people in hospital and in care.

The Dementia Carer Voices project located within the Health and Social Care Alliance regularly receives reports of less than satisfactory care that falls far short of what would be expected in terms of the policy landscape. Clearly we are not talking about “one off” situations and the gap between policy and implementation is wide. So how do we narrow it?


Raising awareness, destigmatising dementia and valuing our old people is only a first step. It is time to face up to the system failures and to put in place adequate measures to deal with them.


People with Alzheimer’s and Dementia are at particular risk because of their communication difficulties. This makes it difficult for them to articulate how they are being treated. We rightly accept the importance of protecting children in our society – indeed we have an independent Commissioner for Children and Young People to protect their rights and give them a voice. We have yet to place the same value on people with Dementia and frail older people.


Wales has for some years had an Older Person’s Commissioner, Sara Rochira.  She was a keynote speaker at the Alliance annual conference this year and challenged us to ask the questions – what constitutes abuse - lack of nutrition, hydration, inappropriate restraint - and why are there so few prosecutions for elder abuse?


If we are not completing nutrition and hydration charts, how do we know how well someone has eaten across changes in staff shifts?

If we used inappropriate and disrespectful language towards ethnic minorities, we would rightly be branded racist.  We have created a culture where such behaviour would not be tolerated and yet for older people this is identified as “an inspection area for improvement”.


A clear message about the parameters of prosecution for inappropriate and inadequate care and treatment of older people in Scotland is overdue. Maybe its time to look to the Welsh Commissioner’s Office for a solution.



Irene Oldfather

Former MSP and Convenor of Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Alzheimer’s. Now Programme Director with the Health and Social Care Alliance.

5th August

Speaking and filming across Devon Partnership NHS Trust - Thursday and Friday


With great thanks to Melanie Walker, Chief Executive Devon Partnership NHS Trust Sarah Brampton, Director of Finance and Lynne Blandford Assistant Director of Finance ,For the kind Invite to speak at the Devon Partnership NHS Trust Budget Holders Conference -Joining Together to Improve Patient care 

I am Very honored to be invited and look forward to attending,learning  ,Listening and meeting everyone 

A massive thank you to Lynn Blanford for inviting and arranging both days 

the schedules are below  

Thursday 28 January
09:30 to 10:30                 Visit to Belvedere
11.15-12.15 p.m.             Knightshayes 
1:00 to 2:00                     ‘Live’ filmed  Interview – Torbay Hospital
2.00-3.00 p.m.                 Memory Service, Torbay Hospital

3.00pm to 4.00pm           Tommy to Talk to staff at Torbay Hospital

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

'Live' Interview from Torbay Hospital January 28th 1pm Available via Computer - tablet or smartphone Thursday 1pm


With great thanks to Paul Norrish  Founder of  TV. Digital Manager focusing on education for health & society. for a kind invite to take part in a Live interview at Torbay Hospital with himself via Hiblio  TV

I am very honored to be invited to take part. You can view the interview live via  the live stream here January 28th 1pm –


Thanks for reading my blog, You can now view my 8 short flims here!
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Monday, 18 January 2016

Tomorrow Speaking Manchester Metropolitan University Brooks Building 5pm Free Event All Welcome



With great thanks to Prof Alison Chambers, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Health, Psychology and Social Care Manchester Metropolitan University for the kind invite to speak at the the University on January 26th 2016 also a big thank you to  Jackie Rees Marketing Officer,for kindly looking after me so well with the arrangements 

I am so very honored to be invited 

Hope if you live in or near Manchester you can make it along 


Thursday, 14 January 2016

Back To speak Broomfield Hospital January 22nd

I am so very honoured and excited to be invited back to speak at Broomfield Hospital @broomfieldnhs to speak on January 22nd 

I  have had the great privilege to speak twice before for Dan @NurseSpooner ,Shevaun @shevyuk and the team at the hospital and I am really looking forward to continuing our friendship and relationship

I am so inspired by all they so and so  very proud to play any small part I can to support their passion
you can read all about the last visit and pledges at the link here  

Thanks for reading my blog, You can now view my 8 short flims here!
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Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Guest Post - Being A CareMaker Via Joan Pons Laplana


This Months Guest Post is from my wonderful and Inspiring Friend Joan @thebestjoan
I am so very glad to know Joan and was very honored to speak at a wonderful #6Cs Conference He put together ,One of my highlights of 2015 This February I have the great honour to attend and speak at the NHS England National Caretakers Conference     

Joan shareS  below his story ' Being a Care Maker 

Being A Care Maker 


I started my journey as a Nurse in 1997 when I graduated from Nursing School in Barcelona. As a young male nurse, I loved action and technology, so I fitted quite well into the accident and emergency (A&E) environment. After gaining my Nursing
Diploma, I undertook a degree in Management of the Critical Care Patient and then worked in various very busy A&E’s around Barcelona. Work was intermittent, so I decided to pursue my career in England. I landed in Sheffield on Bonfire night in 2000 and I was quite impressed by the reception and all the fireworks illuminating the sky!

As a young nurse I had a lot of energy and  had 100 of ideas, most of them useless but occasionally one of them is brilliant but unfortunately slowly but gradually I felt more and more constricted by the hierarchic system that was task orientated and I felt I couldn’t be myself or express my ideas properly. After a few years my energy was lost and I learn to oppress my passion and ideas.

 I was desperate to fit in and to be accepted by my peers and colleagues, the few occasions that I tried to be myself had ended in disaster and to be able to survive I learned to work on a safe mode of performing tasks to avoid problems, but I was constantly looking for ways to experience the same feeling again but I became frustrated. I went home at the end of every shift demoralised, deflated and sad. My nursing career began to drift and I ended up working on the nurse bank, where I became even more detached and unappreciated. I was feeling undervalued and unable to make the difference. Because of that, I felt emotionally drained and I started to develop negative attitudes and feelings towards patients, and a growing devaluation of my own competence. I could say that my care was compromised.It was like a marriage going sour. In May 2012 I decided that Nursing was not for me anymore,

But I decided to give it one last chance before filing for divorce. I applied to be a community Nurse, That day I hit the jack pot. I found my perfect role. Then towards the beginning of 2013 something magic happens

One day a copy of the Compassion in Practice document appear at work. I start reading it  and I immediately felt hooked. That day, I went home smiling. Suddenly there were a change in culture and I fell in love with the vision and the idea of person centered care. The 6Cs for  reminded me of my marriage vows, and from that day I try to live and breathe the 6Cs. I was so inspired by the 6Cs I decided to join the Care Makers programme and I am now an ambassador for the 6Cs, spreading the word, enthusing others and embedding the 6Cs in my daily role.

We know the NHS is going through a tough time, and one of the biggest issues is the lack of engagement and low moral in its frontline staff. And since I became a Care Maker my intention has been to reignite the passion in frontline staff.
Nothing [about me] has changed, not my intelligence - what has changed was passion. I know that there are a lot of Nurses and other health workers that have experience the same I did and their passion and energy have been burning out slowly. My mission is to reach to them.

Being a Care Maker has help me to reignite the passion I had when I left university. Being a Care Maker is more than being an ambassador of the 6cs, it’s a lot more than wearing a T-shirt. What I love more of being a Care Maker is the community behind it, and incredible group of passionate people that has help me and support me and encouraged me on a daily basis.

When you surround yourself with people who believe what you believe then something magic happens. Being a Care Maker has make me fall in love with Nursing again.
Being a Care Maker has brought me opportunities that I could only dream of and has enabled me to work on amazing projects and to reach out to new people. It has empowered me and helped me become a better nurse and because of that my patients has benefited because I been able to deliver better care.

As Tommy always says, small actions make a huge difference and to be able to make a difference others you need to feel capable of it. It’s a privilege and an honour being a nurse, but with that privilege comes professional responsibility. The 6Cs can renew our professionalism and public confidence in our professions. The 6Cs are not just the business of nurses, midwives and care staff. They are the business of all health and care staff: from doctors, to porters, to physiotherapists, to care workers and managers

       Joan Pons Laplana

Thanks for reading my blog, You can now view my 8 short flims here!
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Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Speaking - Measuring,Understanding & Acting on Patient Experience Insight Conference January 29th


With Great thanks to Clare Gallagher @HCUK_Clare and Jayne Duddy at  Healthcare Conferences UK for the kind Invite to speak at the  Measuring,Understanding & Acting on Patient Experience Insight Conference January 29th at the Hallam Conference Center London 

I have had the  privilege to speak for Claire before and look forward to attending,listening,Learning and speaking 




Tuesday, 5 January 2016

tomorrow - Speaking HFMA South Central Annual Conference Modeling Care,Modeling Finance Building the Future


With great thanks to Alison Jerome  South Central Skills Development Co-ordinator, HFMA and all the team for the kind Invite to speak at the Modeling Care,Modeling Finance Building the Future confdrece on January 21st 

I have had the great privilege last year to speak at other HFMA regional events and look very much forward to  attending,Learning,speaking and meeting everyone 


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

Tuesday - two talks #Shropshire Shropshire Partners in Care and Princess Royal Hospital in Telford

With Great thanks to Nicky Jacques Interim Chief Officer Shropshire Partners in Care (SPIC)
Tracy Starling ward manager  Princess Royal Hospital in Telford and my great friend Jules Lewis  Specialist Nurse (End of Life Care Facilitator) SaTH passionate about improving End of Life Care foir the kind invite back to speak at two event in Shropshire 

The first talk will be to Care staff from across Care homes and Domiciliary Care agencies throughout Shropshire and Telford at Derby House for Nicky Followed by a talk for Tracy at a staff training day   Princess Royal Hospital 
I had the great privilege to speak for Jules last year and was truly inspired  by the day and all I met 
Looking forward to returning and meeting more of the people who work across Shropshire making a difference every day 

Thanks for reading my blog, You can now view my 8 short flims here!
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Sunday, 3 January 2016

First Talk 2016 - University Central Lancashire January 8th

A Big thank you to Eve Potts @Eve_Potts  mental health nurse, senior lecturer uclan, MSc student, for the kind Invite back to speak to Students who attend the University on January 8th 

I had the great privilege to speak at the University back in October 2015 and I was truly inspired by all I  met,you can read read more about that visit and the wonderful pledge Here 

I am very excited and honored to be joined  by my great friend Paul Jebb @Pauljebb1 Exp of Care Professional Lead, NHS England. Hon Snr Lec UCLan.for this talk 
The day will consist of a morning session on 'Making A Difference  10am - Mid-Day followed by a talk from Paul 1pm-3pm  on the work of NHs England and how students CAN take the pledges forward and have the support ,guidance and tools to do so. Ending with a Q&A session with Paul ,Eve the students and myself 
looking forward to speaking with Paul,Eve and meeting more inspiring students attedning UCLAN 
Thanks for reading my blog, You can now view my 8 short flims here!
DCV photo DementiaCarerRGBlandscape3_zpsa2f3d5ff.jpg

Friday, 1 January 2016

3 talks Musgrove Park Hospital Taunton,Somerset 19th Jan

Make a Difference - Musgrove Park Hospital 

‘On Tuesday 19th January I will have the great honor to  speak to staff  at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton, Somerset at the kind invitation of Hayley Peters, Executive Director of Patient Care  and Phil Shelley, Hotel Services Manager .This kind invite came after meeting phil when speaking at the Hospital Caterers Association forum earlier this year.  

with great thanks to Andrea Bohun Dementia & Frailty Projects Support Officer AND The Dementia Team at Musgrove Park Hospital are making the arrangements for the day and looking forward to a really inspiring day’.

Its with great pleasure that MPH welcomes Tommy Whitelaw from Dementia Carer Voices  as part of their  ‘You Can Make a Difference’ to talk to us about his experiences as a carer for his mother; and to inspire us all to make a pledge to make a difference to our patients living with dementia.

Please put this date in your diary and encourage as many people to attend as possible. 

Talk 1
9.30 – 11.00
Talk 2
11.30 – 1.00
Talk 3
2.00 – 3.30
Community services stands
9.00 – 4.00

Thanks for reading my blog, You can now view my 8 short flims here!
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Looking back sometimes it feels too hard

Looking back sometimes it feels too hard

Looking back it is sometimes too painful to bare.
My dad was my hero, hardworking, a man of honour, brave, kind, and loyal. He was a Glasgow man, a welder and pipe fitter who lead a hard working life.  My wee mum the kindest and caring of person loved her family who was also hard working, the hardest working mum in the world and gave to all looking for nothing in return.

I remember I was working away when we got news that dad had Cancer and had nine months to live. That’s when I found out how brave my dad was, all he was concerned about was his wee Joan and children he was so brave and got us through it and absolutely I miss him.  I thought mum was going to die of a broken heart but he paved the way for mum to carry on as she had a family to care for, you see that’s what they done they worked hard and gave to all to others.

I loved my parents equally, so why is it when I think of dad although missed dearly I can think of greater times but when I think of my wee mum it often feels like torture. I mentioned earlier how I thought mum would die from a broken heart, what is cruller that or not remembering the reason your heart was broken.  Caring for my mum was the greatest and toughest challenge I have ever faced.  When caring for mum we both felt so helpless there was never time to think only time to try and survive in many ways and as a result Dementia broke my heart in a way that I may never recover.

My wee mum was being challenged every day in her dignity, awareness, inclusion and the cruelest trick of all her memory of the man she loved, why where we allowed to become so alone and helpless.
My wee mum deserved better, better than I was able to give and that’s what this campaign is about giving people the best advice, guidance and support so they don’t sit like I do tonight still feeling the pain that was part of our lives on so many days.  If we change the journey we change the memory.
Dementia does not define my mum as she was magnificent in every way but it broke my heart and dementia does not change the fact that I was the luckiest boy in the world to be Thomas and Joan Whitelaw’s son.
The thing about my wee mum is she would have taken all the dementia and bought it if she thought it would help others.  How remarkable to be like that and that’s what I intend to do in any small way I can to make it better for others in memory of a remarkable mum.

Thank you for making a difference 2015!


 As 2015 draws to an end, the entire team would like to say Thank You. It has been the most incredible YEAR  meeting so many people in person, Twitter, and Facebook. We’d like to end this year with a thank you from our Hearts 

Our 'Make A Difference’ Campaign and Tour started back in 2014 with 187 talks and continued over 2015 with 205 more. 
reaching 42,000 people in person at the talks. This has led to 7,500 people, hospitals, Universities, colleges, and organisations pledging to make a difference for people living with dementia, families and carers.

Many journeys have been made along the way by train, bus, and foot. There have been early starts and late nights, but every single journey has been worth it, the many days and nights traveling home with a smile in my heart, thankful for the people I have met, the care I have witnessed, and the desire and commitment to make a difference every day for others.

There are too many to mention in person, and all the great initiatives  I’ve seen along the way- but the thing that stands out is people, over and above  polices and strategies. It is people who change lives. I am lucky to work with amazing people, Irene, Ian, Laura, Ashleigh and all the team at the ALLIANCE, and feel so lucky to work with them and to have met so many people over the years.

Thank you for all you do to make a difference for others and thank you for making a difference to my life. 

Thank you 2015, looking forward to meeting more incredible people over 2016. 


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from  Tommy, Irene, Laura, and Ashleigh  

You can read the personal pledges made to date at the link HERE 


You can read case studies on how people are fulfilling pledge HERE 


                               Full version of Make a difference with the staff NHSAAA 
Nicola Film Still 2
       Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 

Help is also available during the festive period. Please don’t be afraid to seek support as this can be a lonely time. You can find information of where to access help here and from Alzheimer ScotlandHelpline
Thanks for reading my blog, You can now view my 8 short flims here!
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Health and Human Rights Festival Declaration, Mar '16



DECLARATION is a brand new festival exploring health and human rights, announced today, 10th December, on World Human Rights Day. 

It will take place in Glasgow from 3-6 March, 2016.

The festival will be a mixture of conversation, provocationsperformances, and film screenings, and will feature leading writers, performers, campaigners and thinkers from across Scotland and beyond.

Entry to all events will be FREE.

Declaration is programmed by the team behind the Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival.

It is the result of a partnership between NHS Health Scotland, the Mental Health Foundation, the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE) and University of Strathclyde.

The full programme will be launched early in 2016.

Cath Denholm, Director of Strategy, NHS Health Scotland said:

“NHS Health Scotland is very happy to support this festival.  The right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health for all lies at the heart of what the NHS stands for. We look forward to taking an active role in the festival next March.”

Lee Knifton, Head of Mental Health Foundation in Scotland said: 

We are very pleased to be working in partnership with NHS Health Scotland, The Alliance and the University of Strathclyde to develop an exciting new festival which will explore the notion of health and human rights with the wider public and partners, creating new ideas and energy in this vital area.”

Ian Welsh OBE, ALLIANCE Chief Executive said: 

Declaration is an exciting new festival that will highlight the importance of how human rights are an everyday concern for people who live with long term conditions and unpaid carers across Scotland.   Making human rights accessible and placing them in situations and contexts we can all recognise strengthens our understanding of what can be done to make sure people claim their right to live well.”  

Neil Quinn, Co-Director of the Centre for Health Policy at the University of Strathclyde’s International Public Policy Institute, said:

We are delighted to be a lead partner in Declaration, which will deliver a stimulating programme of events focused on health and human rights. We are excited about the learning that will emerge from the festival and the potential for it shaping public policy in Scotland.   

Further information:

Follow us on Twitter at @declarationfest
Check out our website


My mums name was Joan ,my Mum Had Dementia - our Story 9 Short Films

Tommy’s speech, providing a carer’s perspective,  on the theme of “ No – one ever asked   ” highlighted the transformational impact that ...