Sharing stories during Carers Week

Written by: Tommy Whitelaw, Dementia Carer Voices - UK Project Engagement Lead, the ALLIANCE

Published: 08/06/2016

Tommy reflects on how Carers Week serves an crucial reminder of the importance of sharing and learning from personal experience.

Someone asked me a few weeks back what I learned through my journey of caring for my Mum who had dementia.  It made me think of the most important lesson that my Mum tried to teach me throughout all of my life – it was that all people are amazing and kind.

Being kind is a gift we can all share.  Growing up you don’t always listen.  I wish I had listened more, all of those years ago.

Looking after my Mum living with dementia certainly helped me understand more about the kindness of people.  I’ve been very lucky to meet incredible people every day through our Dementia Carer Voices project, talks, and travel, often leaving me thinking “I am so glad to have met you today.”

Two of those people are Chris and Jayne Roberts, who I first met a few years back at a NHS EXPO Conference.  We got chatting about my talks and life and Chris mentioned his diagnosis.

I knew that day that I had met two people who would be in my heart forever.  Since then we have met many times at events, and every time I hear them speak I travel home feeling glad to have met them again and to have had the chance to listen to their story.

Chris and Jayne do not just raise awareness about dementia and caring, they help you reflect on and understand more about yourself and life.

I won’t try and tell Chris and Jayne’s story.  It is a story that is best and most beautifully told by them themselves, as I’m sure anyone who saw last week’s powerful Panorama documentary ‘Living with Dementia: Chris’s Story’ will agree.

The focus of Carers Week this year is on building communities which support carers to look after their loved ones well, while recognising that they are people with needs of their own.  Learning from first hand experience is such an important part of this.  I know that I learned so much from my Mum and I think we can all learn a huge amount from stories like those of Chris and Jayne.

Thank you Mum for introducing me to remarkable people like Chris and Jayne and thank you Chris and Jayne for introducing and sharing your life story to the world.

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