Dementia Carers Voices’ ‘You can make a difference’ campaign

Read about how national work on dementia led by Tommy Whitelaw, Patient Advocate from the organisation Dementia Carers Voices’ ‘You can make a difference’ campaign connects with the principles of the national framework for nursing, midwifery and care staff Leading Change, Adding Value.

Leading Change, Adding Value (LCAV) builds on the success of Compassion in Practice (2012), with the 6Cs remaining as the core values. However, LCAV was developed to help nursing, midwifery and care staff to also apply an equal importance to quantifying and measuring the outcomes of their work, as they do to demonstrating the quality and compassion that the professions are recognised for.

LCAV is about all nursing, midwifery and care staff, no matter what their role is or where they work, and how they can look at what needs to change or could be changed to improve services, experiences and outcomes for patients, individuals and populations. Many colleagues already do this as part of their everyday practice. However, much of this essential work can often remain hidden or misunderstood, as some of it is not easily measured or captured, or shared.

The framework specifically looks at reducing ‘unwarranted variation’, where standards of care are not equal and how we can make sure that by seeing where inequalities exist and changing them, that everyone can receive the same highest standards.

Tommy Whitelaw tells the distressing experiences he encountered when caring for his mum Joan, who had vascular dementia and sadly passed away in 2012, which brought great challenges, stress, isolation, sadness, but it was a role carried out through love and many touching moments of joy and satisfaction.

Through his account, Tommy also highlights the vast difference that great care can make. The reassurance of a district nurse, the support of a speech and language therapist, a nurse taking the time to call in and help with care at the end of her day – all examples of people who change lives through their help, kindness and understanding.

Responses to Tommy’s story have resulted in thousands of staff across health and care organisations making pledges to think about what they could do to make a difference to others.

The pledges are compassionate, heartfelt and well-meaning. Pledge trees have sprung up around the country and are inspiring others to think about what they could do to make a difference too. These pledges have been tremendous and have reached staff working in a variety of roles and organisations, making them think about their own practice, services and what they can do personally to make that difference.

Nonetheless, there is still some work to do on turning many of the intentions of those pledges into clear and purposeful actions. Therefore Tommy approached the LCAV Operational Team to see if by using the LCAV framework these intentions can be identified, addressed, measured and then the success shared nationally for increased benefit. By doing so, pledges become much more than just an emotional reaction on a day to hearing a powerful story and turn in to a purposeful action which truly makes an ongoing difference.

Nursing, midwifery and care staff represent a significantly large proportion of the health and care workforce, and there is huge leadership ability to deliver change to improve quality of services, outcomes and experiences underpinned by the framework. No matter whether working in practice, academia or in policy, there is an opportunity to create and deliver the changes we need to see in practice, acting as role models for others to follow.

To date, Tommy has delivered more than 700 talks, reaching over 120,000 people resulting in a phenomenal 18,000 pledges.

Many of those pledges are from nursing, midwifery and care staff who have committed to make a difference where they work, to identify what needs to improve and to lead change in their workplace.  These pledges are available to read.

Ten commitments underpin Leading Change, Adding Value and help us focus our efforts on where change needs to happen. Commitment six ‘We will actively respond to what matters most to our staff and colleagues’ particularly resonates with Tommy. Asking the simple question, ‘What matters to you?’ is central to the Dementia Carer Voices ‘Making a Difference’ campaign.

Watch Tommy’s Leading Change, Adding Value video to find out more.

Follow @teamCNO_ and @TommyNTour for future event information.

You can also watch a recent ‘You can make a difference and Leading Change, Adding Value’ talk Tommy gave at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Please contact, if you are interested in holding a ‘You can make a difference’ event.

If you would like to share your story or make a personal pledge to make a difference, please visit the Dementia Carers Voices website to find out more.

If you are caring for someone living with dementia and looking for support you can find help here: