This week (8th – 14th June) marks Carers Week 2015, which this year focuses on building Carer Friendly Communities. The Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland’s (the ALLIANCE) Dementia Carer Voices project works to promote the views and experiences of carers, so that communities, policies and services become more carer friendly. The project recently launched a report on the Caring Experience which was produced after 160 carers shared their experiences of caring for a loved one living with dementia. The report highlights the issues of loneliness and isolation, the need for greater information and support, and shares advice from carers to health and social care professionals and fellow carers to make the caring journey more manageable.
The project has undertaken an extensive engagement programme to reach out to people and encourage them to make a positive difference in the lives of people living with dementia, their families and carers. Engaging with an estimated 25,000 people in the past 2 years, the project has taken an empowering message to people and communities across the country: You Can Make a Difference. The Make a Difference campaign provides people with the opportunity to reflect on the experiences of carers, including those of Project Engagement Lead Tommy Whitelaw who cared for his late mum Joan, and to make their own commitment to make a positive change. The team has now gathered over 4,000 pledges from people throughout the UK promising to make a difference in the lives of people with dementia, their families and carers.
With carer support services out for tender, and the Carers Rights Bill going through the Scottish Parliament, there has never been a more important time to promote and protect the rights of carers, and to listen to and act on their views. The Make a Difference 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 Week 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.
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.”
The Caring Experience report, the full collection of pledges, and further information on the campaign can be accessed online at dementiacarervoices.wordpress.com, where you can submit your own pledge to make a difference.