The Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland’s (the ALLIANCE) Dementia Carer Voices project has gathered a landmark 2500 pledges from people across the country promising to make a difference in the lives of people with dementia, their families and carers as part of their ‘You Can Make a Difference’ campaign.
The team have been taking the campaign across Scotland to highlight that no matter what their role, everyone has the potential to transform the lives and experiences of people with dementia and their carers, often in seemingly small ways. The talks, which are predominantly aimed at health and social care professionals, involve Project Engagement Lead Tommy Whitelaw sharing his own personal experiences from caring for his late mum, Joan, and those of others who have shared their stories with the project in the hopes of improving the experiences of people with dementia, their families and carers. The campaign provides people with 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 their everyday practice to make a difference.
The Dementia Carer Voices team took the campaign to the Scottish Parliament at the beginning of October, where they exhibited the pledges received so far, and invited MSPs to make their own pledge to make a difference. The campaign attracted widespread and cross party support, with figures such as the First Minister Alex Salmond, First Minister-Elect Nicola Sturgeon, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing Alex Neil and the Minister for Public Health Michael Matheson pledging their support. They were joined a plethora of MSPs from across the political spectrum along with Chief Executive of NHS Scotland Paul Gray, who was one of the first to make a pledge at the beginning of the campaign in February to listen to and crucially to learn from carers experiences. These commitments have been captured on film and will be shown on the Community Channel in the new year. A preview of this is now available on the Community Channel’s youtube page which includes Scotland’s First Minister-Elect, Nicola Sturgeon’s promise to do all in her power to “help those who are working so hard to make life better for people with dementia”.
Friday 29th November marks Carers Rights Day, and serves as an important reminder that the rights of carers must always be respected. The campaign recognises the role that each individual can play in ensuring that carers are appreciated and acknowledged as full and equal citizens, who have undertaken what can be an incredibly demanding role. Carers Rights Day provides the perfect opportunity for people to make a pledge to make a positive difference in the lives of people with dementia and their carers, and to recognise the tireless efforts of unpaid carers throughout the country.
Some of the pledges received so far include;
“My pledge is to understand dementia find out the stories behind the person with dementia.”
“My pledge is to continue to take and make time to listen, talk to and provide as much support as possible and make a difference to people’s day.”
“I pledge to be more aware of how carers are coping with their loved ones with dementia.”
Tommy Whitelaw, Dementia Carer Voices Project Engagement Lead, said:
“Carers tell us that a little bit of time, listening and understanding can make an unimaginable difference during what can be a very difficult and lonely journey. The pledges that we have received have been truly inspiring, and we’re looking forward to working with people and seeing those pledges fulfilled.”
Irene Oldfather, Director, the ALLIANCE said:
“This work reaches out and touches the hearts of many people, not least Health and Social Care students and professionals. These interactions are an ideal opportunity for staff to pause and reflect on what is really important to the people in their care. Make a pledge, make a difference.”
Thank you to everyone who has gotten involved, shared the campaign, made a pledge and made a difference! It’s been an inspiring journey so far, and with your continued support we can all make a positive difference in the lives of people with dementia and encourage others to do the same. We would very much appreciate it if you would share this campaign; the talks and our films and encourage people to reflect on what they can do and how they can make a difference.
Thank you – Team Dementia Carer Voices 🙂