A story by Caraidean Tong
“Caraidean Away” was a fantastic 4 night break away to Ullapool for carers and cared for people involved in the Caraidean Tong on the Isle of Lewis.
What Caraidean Away did
The project listened to the views and desires of the people involved and came up with a fun filled 4 day trip to mainland Scotland. Visiting places of interest, carers and cared for people enjoyed participating in activities they would otherwise never have the chance to do.
This improved moral and, self-esteem and lifted the spirits of everyone involved with the project. The trip was hugely successful and valued greatly by everybody.
What Caraidean Tong has learned
Project planning and budgeting, we have learned that involving everybody in planning was a very important and valuable step. People felt listened to and that their ideas were valued by others and this has been hugely important and allowed participants to relax more.
Reaching out to and engaging with new families, we’ve learned that a successful trip attracts more people. Following articles in local press about the trip, more people came forward to join the group. This encouraged everyone and there is an increased sense of pride within the group.
Finding other sources of funding, we were happy to source funding for this kind of trip although we felt that the process is extremely tiresome and in many cases, much more than what you would expect for a grant of the amount we received. That doesn’t mean we’re not grateful for the support we just felt the process was a little overwhelming.
How Caraidean Tong has benefitted from the funding
We have developed better links with the local Third Sector Interface, which has allowed for more opportunities and advice. We have strengthened our organisation’s reputation, following press releases on our return, there was a lot of positive feedback from the community locally.
Carers and the people they care for will have improved wellbeing
Carers and the people they care for enjoyed being away with their peers in the group and shared visiting places they’ve never been to before. Links within the group were strengthened which allowed for better peer support. Participants experienced an increased sense of morale which boosted everyone involved with the organisation. Having the opportunity to participate in a trip like this allowed for the carers and the people they care for time to de-stress and recharge for the impending winter. Carers were energised and the cared for people were able to mix with others and were able to switch the focus from their normal routine to something more positive.
Prior to the project, our member Helen was feeling overwhelmed with her full time round the clock caring responsibilities. Helen was very tired and her caring responsibilities include personal care, cooking, and all elements of supported needed for her husband who is unfortunately now incapable of most things. Although inputting her ideas and thoughts about the project, Helen was anxious about the trip and felt that it might end up being even more of a strain on her, but she was willing to give it a go. Fortunately, the other group members and volunteers who attended the trip, really came into their own and aided Helen fully in order that she might have some time to herself and time away from her caring responsibilities. Small things like pushing her husband’s wheelchair, helping at mealtime, trips to the toilet, personal care, helping with mobility and transport were all offered by a specific volunteer who’s been matched with Helen and her husband, to help them on the trip. The volunteer very quickly dispelled any doubt of his capability in Helen’s mind and Helen was soon able to relax and enjoy the travel, the trips, the entertainment and generally chatting to other people without worry. This also gave her husband a break and enjoyed the company of the volunteer who had a lot to offer in terms of sharing life experiences and general conversation. The trip supported by the group, undoubtedly improved both Helen and her husband’s wellbeing during and after the trip.
Carers will feel better supported to sustain their caring role
Carers had the chance to relax and socialise with others who are in similar circumstances. The trip allowed for peer support to be developed and strengthened. The trip provided the opportunity for carers to experience fun and exciting activities away from their own community and day to day responsibilities which allowed for them to feel refreshed and re-energised in order for them to fulfil their future caring role.
Using Helen again as an example, Helen met some other carers who were able to share their experiences and offer advice and support and to signpost Helen to other services available that she’d not thought of. Helen felt able to approach the subject of respite care for her husband, in order to give her a break. Other carers shared their experiences of this and removed some of the fears that Helen had worried about. On returning from the trip, Helen was supported to investigate respite care and has since, had 7 days of respite care for her husband, which really helped her to rest. This has allowed Helen to take a break from her caring responsibilities and recharge, ready for her husband returning home. Helen reported feeling much better after this.