National Lead Tommy Whitelaw speaks of the importance of carer stories, and would like to hear from you
10 years ago on June 6th – 13th 2011, whilst caring for my mum Joan, I travelled across Scotland asking carers to share their experiences with me. The good and bad stories of caring for a loved one became part of a Letters, Life and Loves stories walk, film and campaign (this link will take you away from our website). Since then, as National Lead for Caring and Outreach within the Carer Voices project at the ALLIANCE, people, relationships and stories have been at the heart of all we do.
For the last number of years Carer Voices has toured the country in person, meeting people face to face and hearing their stories. But since March 2020 and the restrictions, we have focused on using digital platforms for sharing and collecting stories based on Intelligent Kindness and What Matters to You (this link will take you away from our website), and engaging with health and social care professionals.
Carer Voices’ Intelligent Kindness work has always been underpinned by a commitment to the person centred approach of:
1 What matters you ?
2 Who matters to you?
3 What kind of information do you need?
4 Nothing about me without me
5 Service flexibility/personalised contact
These 5 ‘Must do WITH me’ points, asks people to flip conversations away from ‘what’s the matter with you’ to WHAT and WHO matters to you, really trying to understand what and who is important to each and every person that is being cared for. Ensuring that this approach is seen as the default within health and social care is very important to the work of Carer Voices, and we sit on both the Scottish and global steering groups for What Matters To You, to champion the messages of the campaign.
This year, the Carer Voices project are planning to share what matters to carers across Scotland and launch a short film featuring carers, to mark What Matters to You Day 2021 on 9th June.
We are also looking for carers to share their stories through Opinion Pieces which will be shared on our website and within ALLIANCE e-newsletters and social media. Have a look at previous pieces to get some ideas.
We would like carers from across the country to tell us what is important to them in their caring experience. We hope to show the diversity of caring in Scotland, and spread the message of a person-centred approach.
Irene Oldfather, Director of Strategy and Engagement at the ALLIANCE says:
‘Putting carers at the heart of policy and services and asking them “what matters” contributes to narrowing the gap between policy and implementation and helps us to ensure that we learn and listen. Hearing about your experiences is vital to ensuring people remain at the heart of what we do. We’d love to help you with an opinion piece, or contribution to the short film, so that we can all improve what we do. Get in touch’
If you are a carer and would like to get involved or find out more about writing an Opinion Piece or contributing to our short film then please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org