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Conference Speakers

Find out more about our confirmed speakers for the conference in 2018
See this year's presentations

Thank you to all who attended, we look forward to seeing you next year

Speakers at this year’s conference

Please see below for a list of confirmed speakers (in alphabetical order), to date, for the 2018 conference programme. We’ll be adding to this list over the coming weeks.

Check out the speakers for the plenarymorning and afternoon breakout sessions

Jan Beattie

Jan Beattie

Deputy Director of Workforce Development, Alzheimer Scotland

Jan joined Alzheimer Scotland in 2014 as Deputy Director of Workforce Development, having previously ran a consultancy business. The Quality and Workforce Development team are responsible for developing a culture that encourages and rewards staff to share practice, build peer support encourages learning and stretches thinking. Jan is also Chair of Fair Deal, an innovative learning disabilities organisation in Glasgow that is recognised as being at the forefront of personalisation.

Eleanor Bradford

Eleanor Bradford

Associate Partner, Spey Communications

Eleanor Bradford is Associate Partner with Spey communications agency. She was BBC Scotland’s health correspondent for 15 years, between 2001 and 2016.  She pursued government inaction over contaminated blood supplies leading to the Penrose Inquiry and an apology to victims from the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron.  Eleanor Bradford was one of the first reporters in the UK to report the danger to children of laundry capsules which led to warnings and child-resistant fastenings on packets.  Her investigations into waiting time loopholes led to the Scottish Government tightening the way data was gathered and reported.  Her reports often featured cases of injustice against ordinary people, and her investigations into changes to ‘continuing care’ support led to an expert-led inquiry.

In 2016 she left the BBC to become Head of Communications at the University of Aberdeen.  In 2018 she joined former Scottish Government spokesperson Jennifer Robertson at Spey.  She is a Trustee with Adoption UK, having adopted two brothers in 2013.

Gillian Council

Gillian Council

Dementia Advisor, South Highland, Alzheimer Scotland

I have been working as a Dementia Advisor with Alzheimer Scotland for 2 years now. I am passionate about and fascinated by the complex field of dementia and am currently doing a post graduate certificate at St Andrew’s University on the Psychology of Dementia.

During my time as a Dementia Advisor I have been involved in various creative projects. I set up a Woodland Activity group for people with dementia and their carers and I have worked with young people on raising awareness of dementia through drama and dance. I have also enjoyed being involved in local engagement work, and run various carer support groups and a monthly Supper Club.

Ron Culley

Ron Culley

Chief Officer, Western Isles Health and Social Care Partnership: Cùram is Slàinte

Ron is currently the Chief Officer of the Health and Social Care Partnership in the Western Isles. After completing a PhD in 2004, Ron joined a voluntary sector organisation to work with asylum seekers and refugees, before moving into consultancy work in economic development. In 2006, he joined COSLA, leading its work on the health and well-being agenda, and over the course of the next decade was heavily involved in shaping the agenda around health and social care integration. Ron and his family moved to the Western Isles in 2015, since when he has been focused on delivering integrated services in partnership with communities across the Outer Hebrides.

Kate Fearnley

Kate Fearnley

Executive Director, Engagement and Participation at the Mental Welfare Commission

Kate was previously Deputy Chief Executive of Alzheimer Scotland, where she was responsible for the organisation’s service provision, and where she also held other roles over two decades, including Information Manager, Policy Director and Director of Personalisation. She was closely involved in the design of Alzheimer Scotland’s 5 Pillars Model of post-diagnostic support, and 8 Pillars Model of community support. She is also the author of publications including Coping with Dementia and Facing Dementia.

Kate has previously worked for other voluntary sector organisations including Sustrans and Citizen’s Advice Scotland and in the HIV/AIDS field. She has also served on the Boards of the Equality Network and the Health & Social Care Alliance.

Lynn Flannigan

Lynn Flannigan

Improvement Advisor, Healthcare Improvement Scotland

Lynn is an Improvement Advisor for Focus on Dementia which is an improvement portfolio within Healthcare Improvement Scotland.

Lynn is a HCPC registered Allied Health Professional (Physiotherapist) with 25 years of experience in a wide range of care sectors/settings including care homes, community, acute hospitals, community hospitals, general/old age psychiatry day hospitals, intermediate care settings and specialist dementia units. Having been a carer for someone with dementia, Lynn is passionate about improving services for people with dementia and their carers.

Lynn has an MSc in Dementia Studies and is a member of the Scotland’s National AHP Dementia Forum. Lynn is passionate about leading and supporting improvement. She has a post graduate certificate in Leadership and Management and is a graduate of the Scottish Improvement Leader Programme (ScIL).

Clive Flashman

Clive Flashman

Digital Health Consultant and the Director of Strategy at ORCHA

Clive is President of the TeleMedicine and eHealth Council of the RSM, and a mentor for the NHS Clinical Entrepreneurship Programme. He has a strong background and interest in digital transformation in health and care. He was one of the leading innovators of Knowledge Management in the UK at the start of the dotcom boom, and published in a range of journals at the time. He then re-entered the NHS where he set up a national Knowledge System for patient safety, facilitated a WHO committee, chaired a global HL7 Special Interest Group and sat on the NHS Information Standards Board and NHS National Knowledge Service. Clive has lectured and mentored at a number of universities. and is currently a visiting lecturer in Digital Health at the University of Cumbria.

Carol Hargreaves

Carol Hargreaves

Vice Chair, Scottish Dementia Working Group

Carol joined the Scottish Dementia Working Group in 2013, a few years after receiving her dementia diagnosis, and became Vice Chair in 2017. Since joining the group, Carol feels like she is doing something positive with her life and loves working with other people, having fun and learning new things. Carol also joined the European Working Group for People with Dementia in October 2016, where she represents Scotland.

Karen Hedge

Karen Hedge

National Director, Scottish Care

Karen’s career began as a paid carer, and as much as it felt like having an extended family, she quickly became aware of the pressures on the sector. Her frontline experience led to the Board via social care, social work, commissioning and corporate governance. Her experience spans the statutory, independent, and third sector. As National Director of Scottish Care, she is still addressing pressures, but also seeking out opportunities to celebrate the many successes of the sector.

When she is not working, the ‘Ayrshire lass’ can be found on the beach with her family, letting the good sea breeze blow away the cobwebs. She is also on the committee of the Unfunded List, a not-for-profit which supports unsuccessful fundraisers to meet their next bid.

Geoff Huggins

Geoff Huggins

Director of Health and Social Care Integration at the Scottish Government

Geoff  is responsible for taking forward the largest reform of health and care services in Scotland since the creation of the NHS in 1948.  In addition he is responsible for policy and strategy on social care, learning disability, autism and dementia. In June 2017 Geoff assumed responsibility for digital health and care (including ehealth and technology enabled care and digital healthcare innovation). From 2004 to 2014 he was head of mental health at the Scottish Government and before that worked on housing policy and strategy.  Between 1991 and 1998 he worked on political change and counter terrorism at the Northern Ireland Office.  He is the lead for the second EU Joint Action on Dementia and is currently an adviser on dementia to the European Union, South Korea and the Republic of Ireland.  He runs, watches films, reads and takes photographs

Joyce Gray

Joyce Gray

Deputy Director Development, Alzheimer Scotland

Joyce joined Alzheimer Scotland in January 2010 as Deputy Director of Development and leads on major projects that have attracted international interest e.g. Dementia Dog. Joyce has a BA in Business and Enterprise and IPD Diploma in Training Management, in addition to over 30 years’ experience in the health and social care sector. 

She started her career as a Psychiatric Nurse, but had the opportunity to join the voluntary sector in the early nineties and has since worked with young people excluded from main stream education, managed Carers Centres where she developed one of the first young carers services in the Scotland. Also before joining Alzheimer Scotland she worked on developing new and innovative services for people with learning disabilities. 

Fiona Kane

Fiona Kane

Dementia Adviser, Alzheimer Scotland

Fiona has worked with Alzheimer Scotland as a Dementia Advisor since August 2011. Like many of her colleagues, she has also been personally affected by dementia and this experience encouraged her to apply for the Dementia Advisor role. She sees her role as being absolutely crucial in supporting local people with dementia and their families to access the support and services they need and to have their voices heard and is passionate about involving people with dementia and carers in Alzheimer Scotland’s local engagement work. In 2017, she was seconded to the additional role of Development Officer (within the Public Policy team) where she worked with NDCAN, SDWG and local staff to engage people with dementia and carers across Scotland, particularly regarding the impact of Scotland’s third National Dementia Strategy.

Yvonne Manson

Yvonne Manson

Dementia Nurse Consultant, Balhousie Care Group

Yvonne has been a Dementia Nurse Consultant for Balhousie Care Group since 2016. She is a registered mental health nurse, with an MSc in Dementia Studies, with 23 years’ experience of working in care homes in a variety of roles such as care assistant, nurse, manager and dementia nurse consultant.

Dementia care has always been the focus of Yvonne’s career with a particular interest in promoting wellbeing through personalisation and a strong belief in the benefit of collaboration and workforce development.

Yvonne has been involved in the creation of a dementia strategy with residents, staff and families from across Balhousie care group and in projects such as music therapy in various forms, dementia care mapping ™, Life story work, Namaste care, therapeutic gardens, delivering dementia training and the creation of the successful Balhousie dementia ambassador program.

Julie Miller

Julie Miller

Associate Improvement Advisor, Focus on Dementia, Healthcare Improvement Scotland

Julie is an Associate Improvement Advisor with Healthcare Improvement Scotland’s ihub Focus on Dementia portfolio.  She currently works on improving post-diagnostic support (PDS) for people with dementia by developing a Quality Improvement Framework for PDS and testing the delivery of PDS in Primary Care sites in Edinburgh, Nithsdale and Shetland.  She is a registered general nurse and, having worked for Alzheimer Scotland for many years prior to coming to HIS, have specific expertise in dementia and quality improvement.  She has an MSc in Citizenship and Human Rights and graduated from the Scottish Improvement Leader programme in November 2017.

Maureen O'Neill

Maureen O'Neill

Director, Faith in Older People

Maureen has been the Director of Faith in Older People since 2007. The aim of the organisation to develop a stronger understanding of the importance of the spiritual dimension to the well-being of older people. Previously, Maureen was the Director of Age Concern Scotland (now AGE Scotland) and has worked in the voluntary sector in Scotland for nearly 40 years as a staff member and a board member in a range of organisations concerned with mental health, ageing, and community development. She was the Scottish Government appointee to the European Economic and Social Committee for a several years.

Maria O'Rourke

Maria O'Rourke

Activities Coordinator, Balhousie Care Group

Maria started her career in Balhousie Wheatland’s Care Group as the administrator in June 2015, whilst working within the Care Home. She spent time researching and training to become a committed dementia ambassador and Care Assistant within the company whilst maintaining her role as administrator.

Since then Maria has moved into the role of activities co-coordinator and has been working with external partnerships such as the Forestry Commission and Paths for All. Maria has a particular interest in fitness and wellbeing, creating fun ways to get active using music and singing to aid in the experience.  She is enthusiastic about music therapies with the use in Namaste Care and Playlist for Life.  Maria’s most recent projects have been the development of intergenerational work with a local nursery, Cognitive Stimulation therapy and delivering Namaste care.

Jim Pearson

Jim Pearson

Director of Policy & Research, Alzheimer Scotland

As Director of Policy & Research, Jim leads on all of Alzheimer Scotland’s public policy engagement. Jim is responsible for working with other partners to drive forward the commitments of Scotland’s National Dementia Strategy, including work around the post diagnostic support guarantee, testing our 8 pillar model of integrated community support and extending the improvement work in health care to other settings such as specialist dementia care services and continuing care environments. Jim is also responsible for Alzheimer Scotland’s engagement with international partners including Alzheimer Europe and Alzheimer Disease International.

Paula Pinda

Paula Pinda

Project Mnager, CrossReach Heart for Art

Since gaining a degree followed by diploma in Fine Art in 1997 Paula has worked extensively in supporting and facilitating a diverse range of people in various settings through the use of art making. Additionally she gained education in art psychotherapy which helped her to continue to develop her individual and group work practice. Her passion for working with people combined with passion for art is as strong now as it was when she began working in the voluntary sector in her early teens. Currently she manages CrossReach Heart For Art service based on creative, visual arts for people affected by dementia diagnosis.

Tom Russ

Tom Russ

Co Director, Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Research Centre

Tom is a consultant psychiatrist in NHS Lothian, an honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Dementia Prevention, University of Edinburgh, and Co-Director of the Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Research Centre, University of Edinburgh. His research began by examining geographical variation in dementia risk in Scotland and Sweden (and later Italy, Chile, New Zealand, and – hopefully – Japan) and now focuses on environmental risk factors for dementia, such as sunlight (and consequently vitamin D levels) and air pollution. The aim is to identify and understand how the most important factors affect dementia risk with a view to delaying the onset of symptoms and, ultimately, preventing dementia.

Sue Scotland

Sue Scotland

Service Development Manager, Scottish Centre for Teleheath & Telecare / NHS 24

Sue Scotland is a Service Development Manager who joined SCTT in May 2011. Currently she is the Telecare Lead for the Scottish Government’s Technology Enabled Care Programme, which includes Programme Lead for Scotland’s transition from Analogue to Digital Telecare. Sue has previously led various National Programmes in Telehealth and spent 2 years on secondment working in Innovation with the Digital Health & Care Institute.

Sue is a Registered General Nurse who started her career in 1990, training at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Sue worked in Accident & Emergency, Neurology ITU and Cardiology before leaving to becoming a full time student at the University of Edinburgh to train as a social worker.  When qualified Sue worked for City of Edinburgh Council in the Supported Accommodation Team HIV/Aids and Drug Assessment and Rehabilitation Teams. Sue also worked in the Third Sector in hostels supporting homeless women and provided outreach support for sex workers.

Barbara Sharp

Barbara Sharp

PhD, BA Lit (Hons), PG Cert. Research Methods, RN (Adult), RN (Children), Lecturer/Practice Educator

Barbara is Policy and Research Advisor with Alzheimer Scotland. Prior to joining Alzheimer Scotland in 1990, she worked in the NHS for 18 years, specialising in the nursing care of older people, latterly as a joint nurse manager/clinical teacher with the NHS and University of Glasgow.

Within Alzheimer Scotland, Barbara has held a wide variety of posts traversing practice, research and policy development. She currently works within Alzheimer Scotland’s public policy team and as a collaborative partner with the Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice at University of West of Scotland.

Henry Simmons

Henry Simmons

Chief Executive, Alzheimer Scotland

Henry Simmons joined Alzheimer Scotland as Chief Executive in August 2008, prior to this he worked as an Executive Director with ENABLE Scotland. He is a registered Social Worker, Registered Mental Nurse and has an MBA. Henry has over twenty years’ experience in the health and social care sector and has spent the majority of his career in the voluntary sector, primarily involved in developing new community-based person-centred services.

Henry has worked in both the learning disability and mental health fields. He was a Board Member of Alzheimer Europe for several years and is a General Member of the Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland. He is also chair of the NHS NES/SSSC Dementia Programme Board and currently a member of the Fair Work Convention.

Tanya Smith

Tanya Smith

Activities Co-Ordinator/ Dementia Ambassador, Balhousie Care Group

Having commenced a career within childcare Tanya made the move into Elderly Care with Balhousie Care Group in December 2013.

Since then, in the role of activities co-ordinator Tanya has developed a range of projects, involving residents and external agencies and stakeholders which includes the local schools, playgroups, community groups and friends & relatives of residents.  Tanya is a committed Dementia Ambassador, playing an active role within Balhousie Huntly Care Home, and reaching out to local communities. She has a particular interest in the areas of community involvement and intergenerational working, as well as having been an early adopter and enthusiast of the Playlist for Life initiative. Tanya’s most recent projects have been the development of Family Focussed Events (FFE) and the creation of Dementia Gardens and Community resources.

Prof Tara Spires-Jones

Prof Tara Spires-Jones

Professor of Neurodegeneration, University of Edinburgh and UK Dementia Research Institute

Tara Spires-Jones is Professor of Neurodegeneration, Deputy Director of the Centre for Brain Sciences, and a UK Dementia Research Institute Programme Lead at the University of Edinburgh. Her research focuses on the brain changes that cause dementias. Prior to moving to Scotland in 2013, Prof Spires-Jones ran a research group at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard Medical School. She completed postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School doctoral training at Oxford.

In addition to her research, Prof Spires-Jones is passionate about communicating scientific findings to the public and policy makers in order to share the joy of our ever -expanding understanding of the brain and to facilitate a productive conversation about the role of science in society. She is also a FENS-KAVLI Network of Excellence scholar working to foster the careers of neuroscientists, and advises the Scottish Government on science policy as a member of the Scottish Science Advisory Council.

Martin Stepek

Martin Stepek

Mindfulness Teacher, Ten for Zen and Mindfulness Columnist, Sunday Herald

Tara Spires-Jones is Professor of Neurodegeneration, Deputy Director of the Centre for Brain Sciences, and a UK Dementia Research Institute Programme Lead at the University of Edinburgh. Her research focuses on the brain changes that cause dementias. Prior to moving to Scotland in 2013, Prof Spires-Jones ran a research group at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard Medical School. She completed postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School doctoral training at Oxford.

In addition to her research, Prof Spires-Jones is passionate about communicating scientific findings to the public and policy makers in order to share the joy of our ever -expanding understanding of the brain and to facilitate a productive conversation about the role of science in society. She is also a FENS-KAVLI Network of Excellence scholar working to foster the careers of neuroscientists, and advises the Scottish Government on science policy as a member of the Scottish Science Advisory Council.

Maureen Taggart

Maureen Taggart

National Dementia Nurse Consultant, Alzheimer Scotland

Prior to the appointment of Alzheimer Scotland National Dementia Nurse Consultant, Maureen had an excellent 38 years career within NHS Lanarkshire. She held various roles within the organisation including Team Leader for Community Mental Health Team,  Service Development Manager Clydesdale Locality, Service Manager with Operational Lead for Old Age Psychiatry and then Alzheimer Scotland Nurse Consultant with a specific remit to improve the quality of care for people with dementia in the Acute general Hospitals and supporting the Dementia Champions as agents of change and innovation.

Following the publication of the Mental Welfare Commission Dignity and Respect Report in 2014 Maureen was appointed to the joint funded post by AS and SG as the National Nurse Consultant. The Transforming Specialist NHS Dementia Care Report is due to be published with an Implementation Plan in the very near future.

Professor Debbie Tolson

Professor Debbie Tolson

Assistant Dean Research and Enterprise and Alzheimer Scotland Professor of Dementia/DSirector of Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice, University of the West of Scotland

Professor Tolson joined the University of the West of Scotland in 2013 as the inaugural Director of the Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice and Alzheimer Scotland Professor of Dementia. Debbie is a nurse leader with an international reputation for advancing evidence informed interdisciplinary care with people with dementia and family caring. In 2010 she was awarded the Jim Flood Memorial Alzheimer Disease Distinguished Lectureship St Louis University (USA) Medical School. Current research interests include advanced dementia (Pallaire), non-pharmacological caring interventions, individualised and group based reminiscence including football focussed reminiscence, individualised sensory interventions and experiences of early onset dementia associated with employment. She is an active member of the Scottish Dementia Research Consortia.

Maureen Watt

Maureen Watt

MSP, Minister for Mental Health

Maureen was born in Aberdeen and is from a farming background. She studied both at the University of Strathclyde and at the University of Birmingham. Maureen was a secondary school teacher in Social Studies in England before moving back to Scotland to work in the oil sector.

Maureen entered the Scottish Parliament in April 2006 as a regional MSP for North East Scotland and was the first MSP to take the oath in Doric as well as English. She served as Minister for Schools and Skills in the first ever SNP Government between 2007 and 2009 and as convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs and Environment Committee between 2009 and the elections in 2011. She was appointed as Minister for Public Health in November 2014.

John Wood

John Wood

Chief Officer for Health and Social Care, COSLA

John Wood is Chief Officer for Health and Social Care at COSLA, having previously been Chief Officer for COSLA’s Migration Team.  He has been at COSLA for five years, originally joining as a Policy Officer and then a Policy Manager covering a range of portfolios including housing, criminal justice and police and fire reform. Before joining COSLA, John worked in the third sector and in Westminster.  In his spare time, he is a Trustee of the Cyrenians.

His current role at COSLA involves leading on the National Care Home Contract and overseeing COSLA’s work to deliver on the integration of health and social care.  He is also a joint Senior Responsible Officer with the Scottish Government for the establishment of Scotland’s new public health body.

Kirsty Yanik

Kirsty Yanik

Communications Manager, Alzheimer Scotland

Kirsty has worked with Alzheimer Scotland for almost 12 years and has been involved in every aspect of its communications, PR, media, social media, awareness-raising and campaigning in that time. Her current focus is engagement; both externally, through her work to ensure that people with dementia and carers in Scotland’s communities are heard and respected by local decisionmakers, and internally, driving forward Alzheimer Scotland’s commitment to all its staff having an effective voice within the organisation.

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