If you are a carer or belong to the nursing profession, clinical or care team, I’m sure many of you will by now have heard of Tommy on Tour … Tommy Whitelaw, whose mother, Joan had lived for some years with dementia, is passionate about making a difference to people living with dementia, their families and friends. Caring for his mother, he learned of the difficulties in finding information, help and support for his mother and later for himself as a carer. Tommy now tours the country sharing his story with members of our care services to highlight ways in which a little kindness can go a long way especially when someone is living with or caring for a person with dementia.
I was delighted to have been invited to NHS Morecambe Bay Hospital Trust conference this week to showcase Happy Days memory prompts and nostalgic materials to help care teams enrich social care for elderly and people living with dementia. I was lucky enough to attend Tommy’s speech – one I will never forget. A genuine, emotional plea which was so powerful that the effect showed clearly on the faces of almost 150 clinicians, matrons, nursing staff, university researchers, care coordinators, outreach support teams and volunteers. His story is one many of us as a carer have lived through or are living through now. Alongside dementia awareness, Tommy speaks out the the care services. He simply wants people to care – people to be patient enough to listen – people to respond sincerely to people’s needs when they ask for help – people to think about ways to implement caring strategies – to enrich care rather than create barriers … But most of all, Tommy just wants people to be kind – because when we are kind, we can really make a difference to those who need support.
Tommy and I chatted later in the day and I had the opportunity to show how Happy Days memory prompts can help carers engage and enrich social care for people living with dementia. Enriching care is something we both have at the bottom, middle and top of our hearts.
So as Tommy continues to tour the UK, I advise anyone, if they can, to catch one of Tommy’s inspiring talks.