Northumbria Trust Pledge to Make a Difference

It was a great pleasure for Tommy to be invited to The Northumbria Band 5 Nursing Conference on 28 June 2017.  We would like to thank Christine Platton, Associate Nurse Director of Northumbria Healthcare Trust, Marie McKeown, Practice Placement Facilitator and Ann Innes-Smith, Organisational Development Programme Director for inviting Tommy to the conference and an inspirational day.

Tommy has visited Northumbria on a few occasions, which you can read about here

Thanks to everyone who attended the session at the conference and who made a pledge to make a difference.


I pledge to hear and listen to people’s stories! To be as passionate about who and what matters to people as Tommy.

Abbie Davison – Community Nurse


I pledge to take the idea of the “what matters to you tree” back to senior staff/matron at critical care NSECH with the aims of it being implemented on the unit!

Abbey Jackson – Staff Nurse


I pledge to always look for and include the carers.

Kate Maughan – Staff Nurse


I pledge to listen to people’s stories and see them beyond their diagnosis.

Robert Showk – Staff Nurse


I pledge to always work with my patients and their loved ones and find out what makes them individuals and what matters most to them. I pledge to make a difference.

Rebecca Brown – Staff Nurse


I pledge to always remain caring, compassionate and have understanding to make every contact count, to help others maintain their own independence, choice, individually. To always see a patient/carer/family member as an individual no labels, condition, another’s view or perspective. Just as an amazing individual needing extra support or some to listen or just sit with.

Stacey Houston – Staff Nurse


I pledge to be the daughter my mam deserves, to the end x



I pledge to find out more about people as a person not as a patient. Introduce hello my name is info into team’s notes.

Kirsty Mathewson – Community Staff Nurse


I pledge to be as inspirational as “Tommy”

Hilary Groom


I pledge to always listen and learn the stories of my patients their families and carers and advocate when needed.

Beth Shepherdson – Staff Nurse


I pledge to develop the concept of “Golden Hour” for matrons and clinical teams.

Elaine Henderson – Interim Deputy Director of Nursing


I pledge to listen to people with dementia and try to learn their stories. To try to make time to make a difference to one person at a time.

Sara Temple – Staff Nurse


I pledge to always see the person as the person that they are. Treat the patient as I or my family members would want to be treated. Be like the D.N that helped Tommy Whitelaw and his mum.

Deborah – RGN


I pledge to care for people with dementia holistically and imagine the person they once were.

Chris Morgan – Staff Nurse


If I meet anyone with dementia I will be kind and as helpful as I can to them.

Denise Sales – Staff Nurse


I pledge to empower those with dementia and listen.

N.Lannen – Staff Nurse


I pledge to keep listening and understanding people’s concerns in end of life care.

Helen Walker – Registered Nurse


I pledge to make sure that all my patients will feel safe and not scared all the time when they are in a different environment.

Imelda Vergara – Staff Nurse


I pledge to make all of my patients feel special.

Kate Lowden – Staff Nurse


I pledge to explore and cascade importance of small and the comfort of familiar smell.

Pauline Stewart – Staff Nurse


I pledge to take time to listen and talk through my patients fears.

Kat Hall – Children’s Community Nurse


I pledge to listen to and learn my patient’s stories and always recognise the importance of the little things.

Melissa Davison – Staff Nurse


I pledge to always include my patient and their loved ones in their care and aim to include what matters to them within every aspect of care.

Samantha Nye – Staff Nurse


I pledge to take the time to know peoples loves stories. To always ask what matters and who matters.

Laney Fitzpatrick – Community Staff Nurse


I pledge to look deeper past the dementia diagnosis towards the patient themselves.

Michelle Middleton – Community Nurse


I pledge to always have a kind, caring understanding ear and voice.

Wendy Soulsby – Staff Nurse


I pledge to understand, care, respect and listen to patients and treat and love them as individuals.

Bernadette Redpath – Staff Nurse


I pledge to become a voice for those lost in their way. To help with reliving their love story, to learn what makes them feel happy and safe, becoming part of that love story.

Kerri Mitchell – Nurse


I pledge to remember why I started nursing every day.

Sharon Foster – Reg Nurse


I pledge despite time constraints, spend time with parents, listening to their concerns and give advice when needed.

Louise Kennedy – Mental Health Nurse


Posted in "You Can Make a Difference" Pledges

Southport Hospital Pledge to Make a Difference

Dementia Carer Voices were invited to Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust on 3 July 2017 by the fantastic Sue Johnson, Matron Quality and Performance.  You can follow the Hospital on Twitter at @SONHStrust

UK Engagement Lead, Tommy set off on his travels to deliver to sessions at the Clinical Education Centre, were the hospital launched a pledge tree and pledged to make a difference to the people of Southport.

Tommy shared the work of the project, a personal message from CNO England, Jane Cummings and his caring experience to the nurses, student nurses and matrons of the hospital.

Thanks to each and every one of you who pledged to make a difference.  You can read some of them below.

Thanks Team DCV 🙂





I pledge to always remember who you are!

M.Herod – Southport District General Hospital


I pledge to listen. See and feel with compassion.


I pledge to ask the question what matters to you patients, carers and staff. Build into training and development.


I pledge to promote high standards, led by example and help my staff make a difference.

Ruth Stubbs – Head of Nursing


I pledge to promote to colleagues a better understanding at looking past the diagnosis of dementia and seeing the person underneath.

Clare Hare – HCA Southport Hospital


I pledge to help more staff to understand dementia.

Ines Kappda – Health Care Assistant, Southport Hospital


I pledge to hold more hands and just be here.

Gemma – SOGH


I pledge to empathise with my patients and treat them with respect and dignity that I myself would like to receive.

Harry Healthcare – HCA/Trainee Care Support Worker


I pledge to always support my grandma with her dementia the way she wants me to.


I pledge to make my mum feel, more confident, less confused. To listen to any of her fears and be more patient around her.


I pledge to make time for each individual and find out what and who is important to them and make them feel more at home of their scariest time.

Angela Doolan – HCA/SDGH


I pledge to make a difference and care for people when they are at their most vulnerable.

Miriam Chapman – Nurse


I pledge to take the time to get to know the person and how they like things done if unable to do for themselves. To support and listen to them and their family.

Abbey Fletcher – HCA


I pledge and vow to maintain their identity and life of the person who suffers with dementia. Never allowing the care of the person to be defined by their diagnosis, but to be designed around the person themselves.

Karen Bowen – Student Nurse


I pledge to care for everyone as an individual. With the same love, kindness and care as I would do for my own mum.

Jessica Wylie – Student Nurse


I pledge to care and listen to patients and families for whatever reason.

Carole Barnes – Healthcare Assistant


I pledge to always listen and do the best that I can.

Gill Murphy – Deputy Director Nursing Midwifery


I pledge to treat everyone as an adult not like a child.

Sue Burton – Infection Control Assistant Practitioner


I pledge to stop, listen and do everything I can to make positive changes for the patients and staff that we care for.

Carol Fowler – Assistant Director of Nursing and Midwifery


I pledge to communicate the experience and learning today to my colleagues, spreading awareness.

Gill Leary – Discharge Planning Virgin Care


I pledge to never forget the person behind the condition and strive to continue to make a difference.

Nicola Taylor – Halt Nurse, Southport Hospital


My pledge is to reassure family members that I will care for their loved one as if they were my own family or as they would care for them. I will find out their likes and dislikes and always their name and not their condition.

Kate McCall – Alcohol Specialist Nurse


I pledge to never define a person by their disease.

Hilary McLaren – Ward Manager


I pledge to make the time to get to know our patients better and make it about them.

Abi Hughes and Kate – Physios Critical Care


My pledge is to try and understand the person and not define that person as having “dementia”

Claire Kinsley – Sister


I pledge to learn peoples story and life before the disease.

Hannah Hilton – ISA – SDGH Sister


I pledge to try and listen more to patients and family.

Amanda Stubbs – ISA HCA


I pledge to help patients to share their stories and what is important to them.

Michelle Kitson – Assistant Matron


I pledge to take time to listen and find out “what matters to you” and treat everyone as an individual considering their individual lives and personal preference.


I pledge to listen and to ask and not just do.

Nadine Traynor – Staff Nurse


I pledge to keep people with dementia individualised as is possible. Ensure they remain the person they were before their diagnosis. I pledge to find out who they are and what matters to them. I pledge to adapt my care to cater to their individual needs so they feel as safe as possible in my care.

Emily Taylor Morgan – 3rd Year Student Nurse


I pledge to inspire the people meet professionally and personally to be the very best they can be overcoming obstacles to achieve there’s and other wishes.

Nicky Williams – Assistant Matron Nurse Education


I pledge everyone is someone who deserves kindness and respect.

Sara Gaskill – RGN Outpatients


I pledge to try and stop and remember everyone has a story and want to be seen as a person not a condition – therefore try give a little time and pass on message.

Kara Smith – Practice Education


I pledge to care, listen and always show compassion to my patients. I will always listen to their thoughts and try to find out about their own love story.

Keely Fletcher – Trainee Assistant Practitioner


I pledge to take the time to see the individual, not the diagnosis.

Dani McCabe – Student Nurse


I pledge to do my best to offer dignified person-centred care so that a patient may feel safe, looked after and listened to.

Emmeline McLoughlin – Student Nurse


I pledge to connect with every patient as a personal level to get to know my patients and to allow them to get to know me.

Hannah Worthington – Student Nurse


I pledge to spend time with my patients and listen to their story.

Charlotte Howard – Student Nurse


I pledge to not assume every patient with dementia is challenging before I meet them.

Donna Hadnett – RGN


I pledge to treat everyone as I would my family.

Rebecca Allison – Staff Nurse


I pledge to praise staff for good care and reminder they why they are here and how good it feels to care for others.

Sue Johnson – Matron


I pledge to see the person in their eyes to understand their story and to see them with mine.

Cassandra – Cancer Support Worker


I pledge to offer patience, understanding, caring and support to individuals living with dementia.

Sue Renforth


Posted in "You Can Make a Difference" Pledges

Dementia Carer Voices Goes to Parliament

This week Dementia Carer Voices is going to the Scottish Parliament to celebrate the over 14,000 we have received over the years on our ‘You Can Make a Difference’ campaign and have conversations about the key messages within our new publication with MSPs.

As part of the campaign we have previously spent a few days at the Scottish Parliament, where many MSPs made their own personal pledges.

We are going from Tuesday to Thursday this week and will be presenting at a stand in Parliament to promote our project and engage with parliamentarians about the work that we do. On Wednesday MSPs will debate Dementia Carer Voices’ work and discuss the findings of the publication we have delivered.

You can watch the debate on Thursday via this link on the day at 5pm.

WMTY Team photo

In addition to our stand, we will be hosting a lunch on Thursday, which be a chance to discuss our latest publication and have conversation with people who have made the pledges who will be coming along to the event.

See here for our updated case studies of our tour to universities, colleges, hospitals and care homes.

Press Release

Parliamentary Exhibition and Event 27th – 29th June 2017: Press Release

Dementia Carer Voices are bringing the voice of 14,000 health and social care staff and students to Parliament for a two-day exhibition and event. Thanks to sponsorship from Jackie Baillie MSP, Dementia Carer Voices (DCV) have been given the opportunity to exhibit information at the Scottish Parliament on 27th – 29th June. There will also be an event in Parliament on Thursday 29th June to discuss the content of the latest DCV report which assesses the impact the ‘You Can Make a Difference’ campaign has had since it launched three years ago.

The ‘You Can Make a Difference’ campaign has involved an extensive outreach programme of over 600 talks delivered to health and social care professionals and students throughout the country, to engage with individuals at every stage of their career. This has resulted in over 14,000 pledges being made by practitioners and students to improve experiences for caring for individuals. These pledges are often small changes, but can make a crucial difference for people who are at their most vulnerable. Some pledges that have been gathered include:

  • “I pledge to make a difference as the future nurse to listen to the carers and patient. To give them the best support and care they needed and not to make them ever feel isolated.”  (Student nurse)
  • “I pledge that I will see the person with dementia as an individual who has lived their life from childhood, to falling in love, to having a family and growing old, to understand their story and how they would like to be cared for.” (Nurse)

The campaign has showcased the impact of personal stories; the recognition that all of us are individuals and not simply ‘patients’ or ‘staff members’, and that each of us has the ability to make things better for other people, both in our personal and professional lives. The DCV exhibition will showcase the ‘You Can Make a Difference’ campaign and crucially the pledges that have been gathered to date, along with the journey that the people who have made them have been on.

Irene Oldfather, Director the ALLIANCE  said: “Dementia Carer Voices is delighted to return to Parliament to share the learnings of our inspiring campaign to make a difference to the lives of people with dementia, their carers and families. Discussing and debating the carer experience is to be welcomed as a way of increasing awareness of dementia and the carer journey.

Carers of people with dementia describe the journey as an emotional roller coaster which is both rewarding and incredibly sad as you lose a little of the person each day. The ALLIANCE welcomes this debate and the commitment of MSPs across the chamber to promoting the carer experience.”

  • “My pledge is to “leave no stone unturned and no door unknocked” in pursuit of a Better Tomorrow for people with dementia and their carers”

Tommy Whitelaw, Project Engagement Lead for Dementia Carer Voices said: “I would like to thank MSPs for their on-going interest and taking this opportunity to listen to the thoughts, feelings and experiences of carers. It is imperative that we raise awareness of the impact of dementia on families, and the vital role played by carers, so that nobody else in Scotland has to go through the caring journey experiencing the loneliness and isolation that we did.”


Further information

More information on the project can be found at or alternatively at where the full list of pledges can be accessed.

For any questions related to the exhibition, the event or the report, please contact Irene Oldfather, The ALLIANCE Director 07713 329752 or Tommy Whitelaw, UK Engagement Lead, The ALLIANCE,  07921 395712.




Posted in Events

Carers Week with Dementia Carer Voices

Another busy week for the team sees our UK Project Engagement Lead, Tommy was privileged to be invited to host and speak at the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough “Pride in Our Carers” Awards 2017 on Tuesday. Follow the Trust on Twitter for more updates @CPFT_NHS

Tommy presented in the morning, speaking about the project and his caring experience. Then the afternoon saw him host the “Pride in our Carers” Awards Ceremony.  It was a great honour for Tommy on such a poignant week.

Some of the categories included:

  • Carer of the Year,
  • Young Carer of the Year,
  • Carer Friendly Social Care,
  • Carer Friendly Employer.

Congratulations to all the deserved winners.

Special thanks to Dr Helen Brown, CEO of Carers Trust Cambridgeshire and Annette Reader, PA to the Executive Team for arranging and inviting Tommy to a wonderful and inspirational day.

You can read the latest news piece from Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Trust.



Posted in News

St Clare`s Hospice – pledge to make a difference

Special thanks to Philip Ball, Director of Patient Care for kindly inviting Tommy to speak at St Clare`s Hospice on 7 June 2017.

Tommy has met a Philip a few times over the years at different events and it was great to be invited to speak at the Hospice and meet everyone.

Big Thanks also to Tracey, Giovanna , Emily, all the team and to all who attended the 3 talks over the day.

Thank you for a great day full of kindness, care and the wonderful pledges below.

Team #DCV 🙂

I pledge to remember to use hello my name is, then ask what matters to you today and listen to the answer. Add a new “tree” to workplace.

Philip Ball – Director of Patient Care at St Clare`s Hospice.

I pledge to support my neighbour who is caring for her partner who has a recent dementia diagnosis.

Julia Dale – St Clare`s Hospice.


I pledge to always listen and learn more about everyone who I work with.

Emma Sugarman – Communications Officer – St Clare`s Hospice.


I pledge to never stop caring or loving anyone with dementia.


I pledge to keep remembering why I come to work and to ignore the governments targets. To ask managers to remember this.


I pledge to hold the hand of the carers and their loved ones. To promise them that I will listen to what they would need. Not what works best for me.

Pushja Misty – Volunteer IPU


I will take time to ask my dear friend what matters to her most in caring for her father and how can I help.

Tracey Hammond – Director of Organisational Development.


I pledge to ask about peoples love stories.

Shelley Leigh – Therapy Assistant at St Clare`s Hospice


My pledge is to continue to listen, support and facilitate open, honest communication between people with dementia and their carers and health professionals.

Charlotte Stradler – Speech and Language Therapist.



Posted in "You Can Make a Difference" Pledges

Now its time to act!

Following on from the #WMTY17 Day last week we have a poignant guest blog today from our colleague Marianne Brennan, Partnership and Practice Programme Development Officer, Self Management Team.

Tuesday 6th June 2017 celebrates ‘what matters to you day’ which is a day filled of mixed emotions on my part. I am a big advocate of the day and believe this question can make a difference to life of individuals when it’s carried through to its fullest not only on the 6th June but throughout the year. However, on my own personal reflection, I have my doubts about it.

Over the past couple of months I have been in and out of hospital visiting my uncle. On my first visit to the hospital, straight away my eyes went to the ‘What matters to you’ board behind his bed. I was excited to see it live although saddened to see that after a week of my uncle being in hospital, his board was left blank. I asked him if he knew what it meant and he had no idea. The nurses on his ward work tirelessly and I cannot fault anyone in the care he received while in hospital, but I couldn’t help think why hadn’t they asked the question?

After a few weeks my uncle was readmitted to hospital and yet again the same experience, the board was still blank. For a while I thought about asking the nurses but didn’t want to make anything awkward in regards to the care my uncle needed so blank it was. There are many things that matter to my uncle as with any individual and with a huge push for the campaign going on around me the actual practicalities still seemed far off.

On the third admission to hospital, unfortunately to say goodbye to my uncle, again my eyes went to the board and it was filled in! I was silently overjoyed to see that on his final time in hospital someone had taken the time to ask him what matters.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had time to reflect and explained to my aunt that I was happy his board was filled in, things like Lucozade and his wife were written on the board and so was the fact he needs his esure shakes each morning. I was yet again met with disappointment when my aunt explained that every day when she visited for the five days since the board was filled in not once was he given his shake until my aunt arrived at visiting time and asked the nurses. He was never a man to ask for help and didn’t want to hassle anyone but I just wished that after taking the time to ask what matters that the answers he gave were valued.

To me, the experience with my uncle felt like a tick box exercise. I understand the time pressures on health professionals but if we have such a wide spread campaign supported by the Scottish Government and medical professionals from around the world, are we sure that this campaign is truly making an impact on the lives of individuals? I still strongly support the campaign but I wait in anticipation to find out about impact it will make…


Posted in 'Viewpoint' Blog Posts

Award winning Arora dementia friendly community project

Kicking off a new week with a guest blog from Paula at the Arora Project.  Lets see what Paula has to tell us….

I’m Paula Brown, Project Co-ordinator for Arora, the Dementia Friendly Community at An Lanntair Arts Centre in Stornoway.

We have been funded for three years by Life Changes Trust to investigate bilingualism in dementia through arts based engagement and we have been fortunate enough to have other pots of funds for specific work from other funders such as Alzheimer Scotland, the NHS, Wm Grant Foundation and DEEP.

An Lanntair has a wealth of art experiences to offer the entire community and I am extremely fortunate that my job is to share that with people who have dementia and those in their circle of care. This could mean hosting a dinner where people living with dementia share experiences and thoughts with the An Lanntair team to feed back about programming and requirements for the building (lighting and signage etc), it could mean adapting an exhibition or putting on special dementia friendly performances or screenings of films. It might mean screening films in care centres, or offering new ways of watching local archive film on a tablet computer which is shared on the mobile library bus.

The Artists that we work with are selected for their empathic and collaborative ways of working with people and this way, we have created some incredible works of art together, from very personal quilts to an immense piece of public image art in a care centre and hospital.



Some of our work is about including and involving very isolated people to participate in projects. For example, at a local hospital, the community pulled together to renovate a ward garden and we were able to work with people living with dementia on the ward to select colours for paint and to select seeds for planting and to do some planting, despite the conditions of advanced dementia. Tasting, picking up and eating berries, pointing, facial expressions and smelling were all ways in which people on the ward were able to contribute. Isolated people at home are able to book our memory boxes and archive film tablets as easily as they do a library book.

Collaboration is at the heart of everything we do. Collaboration with a person on an individual level, collaboration with families, carers, paid carers, collaboration with Museums, Libraries, Charities, NHS teams, Universities and Artists, this is how we achieve our best work. Our NHS Hospital ceilidhs are a great example of this collaboration between the NHS, Alzheimer Scotland and ourselves.

Supporting carers is vital. We often meet carers through working at the Day Centres, through meeting them at community sessions, through carers groups and we offer crafting and arts opportunities and the chance to work with an Artist. We often see carers coming along to sessions and cinema screenings. We provide carers kits to supply personal time activity and meet with them once a month for dinner. We are also there for carers when through a difficult personal decision or through a decision made by others, the caring role changes and the cared for person moves to a care setting. Because we work closely with people in care settings too, I was reminded this week how important the whole community approach is, when a lady thanked me and said she was able to feel more positive about the move when she knows we will continue to offer sessions and visits just as we did within the community and in hospital.


We value the knowledge and experience of the people we work with – our Woven Communities project with University of St Andrews brought forward some amazing insights for Museums to share with the community and for basketmakers and academics to learn about how techniques were employed, given eagerly by people living with dementia either through demonstrating with hand memory or through being able to tell us.

One key point that we have discovered through studying bilingualism is that language is never just one or two – we all communicate in so many ways and that artistic communication has proven to be particularly valuable for people with dementia losing their ability to communicate through words. Dance, imagery, collage, planting, even making and preparing food has offered methods of self expression that we have valued together immensely.

This project aims to leave a legacy of a record of ways of reaching a person on an emotional and personal level that supports them to communicate and express that emotion and person and ways to maintain community and cultural connections.

Please take a look at our blog on or get in touch at for more information.


Posted in 'Viewpoint' Blog Posts