Dementia Carer Voices Parliament Exhibition – MSPs make their pledges

The Dementia Carer Voices team ( a 3 year Scottish Government funded project hosted at the Health and Social Care Alliance) were delighted to be at the Scottish Parliament last week to showcase the Make a Difference campaign and all of the inspiring pledges we have gathered so far. We would like to say a sincere thank you to all of the MSPs who took the time to learn more about the campaign, to read some of the pledges we have received and to make their own pledges. We would especially like to say thank you to Sandra White MSP for sponsoring the exhibition, without whose support we would not have been able to speak to so many MSPs at once about the Make a Difference campaign.

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The exhibition had a great response, and we were very privileged to have had the opportunity to go to the Scottish Parliament and share some of the experiences of carers and families of people with dementia, and that over 2000 people have made a pledge to make a difference in their lives. Thank you to all of you who have engaged with the campaign, who have shared information on twitter, who have told their friends and families or colleagues about the project and especially those of you who have made a pledge. It is your support that has allowed  the campaign to grow, and we’re excited to see where it will go next!

We couldn’t fit all of the photos from the event but if you would like to see more please follow the link at the bottom of the post.

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Tommy Whitelaw, Project Engagement Lead said

“It’s been a real honour to have this opportunity to come to the Scottish Parliament and share some of the stories from the tour. We’ve been so inspired by the commitment from students and current health and social care professionals to making a difference in people’s lives – it’s fantastic to see this commitment recognised and that so many MSPs are backing the campaign and pledging to make a difference in the lives of people in their constituencies and beyond.”

Irene Oldfather,  Director said

“Having travelled across Scotland Our Dementia Carer Voices Project team took our campaign last week to the Scottish Parliament to ask MSPs to reflect on what they could do to make a difference to the lives of people with dementia and their Carers.  Inspired by the work of our engagement lead Tommy Whitelaw and his story of caring for his mum Joan, MSPS, Ministers, Shadow Ministers and senior Civil Servants rose to the occasion and joined us to say “Scotland’s Parliament Cares”.  With over the overall campaign reaching a massive 2,500 pledges to make a difference our call to action is transforming culture and raising awareness from the hospital tea rooms to the Scottish Parliament. Here is what your MSP said they would do to make a difference…”


I will always support those with dementia and in particular their carers on a personal level. I will see the person and not the illness.

My pledge is to make sure the issues that concerns carers are heard in Parliament and Government – John Swinney MSP

My Pledge is to keep in touch with friends and their partners when that friend falls victim to dementia – Christine Grahame MSP

My pledge is to speed up new support and facilities for people with dementia – Alex Neil MSP

My pledge is to listen to people with dementia and their families. Learn more about dementia friendly environments, architecture and services – Jim Eadie MSP

I pledge to listen to those caring for people with dementia and to do all I can to support them – Malcolm Chisholm MSP

My pledge is to continue the work I am doing to support paid and unpaid carers who do vital work in our community – Neil Findlay MSP

My pledge is to do what I can as an MSP to help those with dementia and their carers – Ken Macintosh MSP

I pledge to think more and talk more about the experiences of people with dementia and their carers – Margaret Burgees MSP

One in eight people in Scotland gives freely of their time to care for others and The Scottish Parliament can learn valuable lessons from their experience of our health and social care services. I pledge to listen to carers and take every opportunity to ensure that they play a central role in shaping future policy – Jackie Baillie

My pledge is to always speak up for people in Dunfermline with dementia or caring for someone with dementia – Cara Hilton MSP

My pledge is to support those with dementia and their carers in their daily needs and receipt of benefits through parliamentary action – Bill Kidd MSP

My pledge is to work with and support carers and their families in Fife, and raise their needs in Parliament – Claire Baker MSP

My pledge is to continue to support Tommy`s work to raise awareness of the conditions affecting older people – Christina McKelvie MSP

My pledge is to speak up for carers who need a stronger voice – Alison Johnstone MSP

My pledge is to listen with ears, eyes and posture – Stewart Stevenson MSP

My pledge is to factor in dementia in rural policy provision – Rob Gibson MSP

My pledge is to listen to the voices of carers and work to ensure they are properly supported – Jayne Baxter MSP

My pledge is to visit Motherwell`s dementia café – Clare Adamson MSP

My pledge is to support improvement of services for carers and those they care for and to raise the issue of dementia care with local NHS Managers – Paul Wheelhouse MSP

My pledge is to ensure that people and their families are given the support that they need – Kevin Stewart MSP

My pledge is to support action in parliament to make a difference for those living with dementia and their carers – Iain Gray MSP

I pledge to support young people to be more aware of the issues surrounding dementia and make a positive difference – Jordan Linden MSYP

My pledge is that carers (where they want to) should have own assessment and all carers should have an emergency plan as the first minister promised 72 years ago – Richard Simpson MSP

I pledge to support constitutes with mental health issues to find the support they require – Gordon MacDonald MSP

My pledge is to examine how better we can assist veterans with dementia – Keith Brown MSP

I pledge to work with people with dementia, their families and carers, to empower them to make the decisions about their care needs – Roderick Campbell

I pledge to read all the student nurse pledges and see how I can help the students meet these – Hugh Masters, Chief Nursing Officer at Scottish Government

I pledge to freely share our knowledge and experience of specialist dementia care – Andrew Senew, Home Instead Senior Care, Edinburgh

I pledge to work with the representative organisations and those who care for people with dementia to improve the support offered for them.  It is vital to listen to those living with dementia and learn from that experience, responding to any concerns and working to improve the lives of those who are carers, and for those they care for.  This will be a priority for me. – Jamie Hepburn MSP


Michael Matheson MSP

I think one of the most important things we need to do is to listen to carers and the impact that it can have on them, but also to their cared-for person: what they would like to see happen and how they would like to see the support that they require provided for them.

So my pledge is that I will listen very carefully to our carers and what their cared-for person would like the government to do at a national level.

There can’t be any MSPs who haven’t had some form of constituency engagement around dementia. But even from a personal point of view, in their own families they have probably been touched by someone who has been affected by dementia. And we know that the increasing levels of dementia are going to continue in the years ahead and what we need to do is to make sure that we think about how we plan for that and how we support both the carers and the cared-for person much more efficiently – and a key part of that is to listen and respond to that in a positive way.

Alex Neil MSP

My pledge is to speed up the support and facilities for people with dementia in Scotland.

I am very, very committed to the dementia agenda.

My late father himself suffered from Alzheimers, so I’m very aware of the challenges that people with dementia and their carers and families have.

And while we are making enormous strides in Scotland, I want to do more, much more to help people with dementia and their carers and families and friends.

It’s more than awareness-raising, because I think involving people with dementia and their carers in decisions about what they need is absolutely crucial – and I think that is a unique situation in Scotland. In fact, I was interviewed by Japanese television on this very point and I believe people in Japan and many other countries will want to follow the experience of Scotland and include people with dementia in policy-making, precisely so that their views are part and parcel of what actually happens in terms of public support and development of facilities for people with dementia in Scotland.


First Minister-Elect Nicola Sturgeon

Every single pledge that’s made adds up to a transformation in how we care for people with dementia and the people who care for them.

Meeting you (Tommy) changed my life and meeting your mum was one of the most special moments of my life – and as long as I’m in politics and as long as I’ve got any influence in government, my pledge is to help people who are working so hard to make life better for people with dementia.

Working in this area has shown me that it’s the small things that add up to the big things and if we all make a pledge to do something small, then that will transform the way that people with dementia live and the support that we give to people who care for them – and that is so important.

Paul Gray, Chief Executive, NHS Scotland

We are hearing from individuals about what they think they can do.

I think the emphasis there on that wording – “you can make a difference” – the first word is: “you”.  That means people, individuals, can make a difference.

And the second word is “can”. It is within our grasp to make a difference and I think it’s really important that we realise this.

I also think that, from my perspective, I need to listen to the voices of carers, because in my life experience I have not been a carer so I can’t say that I know what it would be like to do that, and that’s why I think it is hugely important that I listen to and learn from the real experiences of carers.

I wish you every success with you endeavours. I think you’re creating a real impetus behind this programme and I think it will be of benefit to the people of Scotland and I think the wider international community are interested in what we’re doing.

I think it’s really important that we are demonstrating top class practice and hearing the voices of care and making changes as a result.

And I just what to assure all our staff of NHS Scotland that I am completely supportive of them giving their testimony as to what they will do in relation to this programme.

So, to me, it’s about hearing voices and answering to those voices that we hear.


Ian Welsh, Chief Executive of the ALLIANCE said:

“Holding a parliamentary event is always a productive way for an organisation or project to demonstrate to MSPs and civil servants the extent, scope and impact of its work. However, It was much more than this for our Dementia Carers Voices Project and the work of the DCV team.

Making visible the real product of Tommy Whitelaw’s barn-storming visits to universities, hospitals, community venues, care homes and demonstrating the success of the outstanding pledge campaign was an opportunity, once again, to show how ready the health and social care work-force is to make a difference in one of the most socially challenging areas of government policy.

Counting the number of pledges is easy but more difficult to hear is the overwhelming noise of isolation, disconnection and despair that sometimes comes from disconnected services and Tommy continues to touch that chord in all the accumulated audiences from all over Scotland.

It remains important that the message is heard and, more importantly, that it is responded to in practical improvement work in hospitals, care settings, communities and that the development of a seamless, integrated, person-centred dementia service is at the top of the development list in all our localities.

That is why the humbling pledges made by Paul Gray and First Minister-Elect Nicola Sturgeon are so crucial for the mood-setting around the development of new ways of working in health and social care services and why the ALLIANCE strapline People at the Centre remains so apposite.”


The full photo album from the exhibition can be found by following the link below:


Posted in "You Can Make a Difference" Pledges, News
One comment on “Dementia Carer Voices Parliament Exhibition – MSPs make their pledges
  1. […] part of the campaign we have previously spent a few days at the Scottish Parliament, where many MSPs made their own personal […]

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