A chat with Tommy Whitelaw
Tommy Whitelaw will be appearing at this years' Annual Members' Meeting / Annual Governors' Meeting on Thursday 5 October at Belper Town Football Club and you all are welcome to join us at the event. We had a chat with him to learn a bit more about why he decided to raise awareness about dementia and the campaign he is running at the moment.
When you first encountered dementia, do you think you knew enough about it to be able to spot the symptoms?
As a son I stumbled in to caring for my mum and stumbled thorough it too often with a lack of understanding within and around us.
What inspired you to start your blog, Tommy on tour?
The feeling of loneliness and isolation and suddenly people not seeing my mum for all she was, had been and still had an opportunity to be. I wanted to try and make that better for my mum and others by raising awareness of dementia.
Can you tell us a bit more about the ‘You can make a difference’ and Dementia Carers Voices campaign?
Dementia Carer Voices are running a 'You can make a difference' campaign where we are encouraging people to make pledges for dementia care. It could be something really simple like 'I will take the time to speak to my patient's family to help support them' or it could be something bigger, like pledging to create more dementia friendly signage. The team would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has made a pledge as part of the ‘You Can Make a Difference’ campaign and we are absolutely delighted to have received more than 14,804 pledges! This is an incredible milestone, and is only possible due to the commitment and compassion from everyone who has attended a talk or read about the campaign and made a promise to make a positive difference in the lives of people with dementia and their carers.
The team have been taking the ‘You Can Make a Difference’ campaign to 550 talks to date, reaching over 80,000 staff and students throughout the UK to highlight that no matter what their role, everyone working in Health and Social Care Services has the potential to transform the lives and experiences of people with dementia and their carers, often in seemingly small ways.
The talks involve me sharing my own personal experiences from caring for my late mum, Joan, and the experiences of others who have written to him since I first went on tour in 2011. The campaign allows you the opportunity to reflect on these personal stories and make a pledge based on one key message or action that they will take away and apply to your everyday practice to make a difference.
Going by the letters that you have received from other carers, what would you say the biggest issues and difficulties are for them in their daily lives?
Loneliness, isolation and a lack of understanding.
What are the three key things that you would like people to take away from your presentation?
That we are all unique and remarkable and all our stories should matter to all who play a part no matter how big or small that part may be.
And no matter what your role, you have the potential and opportunitity to transform the lives and experiences of people living with dementia.
When you’re not working, travelling the UK and educating people about dementia, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I love going on walks, but at the moment all my time is taken up with the tour!
We look forward to meeting Tommy and hearing what he has to say on Thursday 5 October, make sure you can join us!