Short Breaks for Carers in Falkirk & Clackmannanshire
A story by Falkirk & Clackmannanshire Carers Centre
We provided grants directly to carers who live in Falkirk district or Clackmannanshire.
What Short Breaks for Carers in Falkirk & Clackmannanshire did
This funding allowed us to continue to offer grants of up to £300 to local adult carers, young carers and young adult carers. Additional funding from the Falkirk Integrated Care Fund for breaks for those caring for an adult in the Falkirk area allowed us to increase the number of Time to Live grants we made. In total 109 awards were made to carers in Falkirk district and Clackmannanshire.
We promoted the Time to Live Fund on our website and on social media and in our newsletter which is distributed to local carers, GP practices, libraries, hospitals, community care teams, local third sector organisations etc. Local organisations and agencies, including Social Work and third sector organisations, also promoted the programme through their communication channels.
Carer Support Workers were able to offer this opportunity to carers as part of their carer support planning work with individual carers. Carers were invited to complete a short Time to Live application form, with assistance from a Carer Support Worker if required. The application form sought to gather information about the carer, their caring role, the type of break and expected benefits, and other information that would allow eligibility to be established and verified and to allow the applications to be prioritised for awards.
Applications were submitted every 6 weeks to a panel made up of a member of the Carers Centre Board, a representative from Social Work and two Carers Centre Service Managers (adult carer support and young carer/young adult carer support).
All successful applicants were required to submit receipts for breaks taken, except in cases where the break had been paid for directly by the organisation which was often the case for young carer breaks. All recipients of awards were also required to complete and evaluation form following their break.
When Fiona was asked about taking a break she felt that would be difficult as she didn’t want to leave her husband and, because of his illnesses (and their cats!), it was not easy for them to go far from home. When pressed on what she would really like to do as a treat or break for herself, she said that she would like to spend a night in a local hotel with her husband as they don’t have a bath at home and it would be a real treat to enjoy a bubble bath.
A Time to Live grant allowed Fiona and Mark to spend two separate nights at a local hotel with bed, breakfast and evening meal and, best of all, a hot bath! The first night was on their wedding anniversary.
In her evaluation, Fiona reported that, as a result of these breaks, her physical, mental and emotional health improved, she felt less stressed and less tired, the mental/emotional health of her husband improved and her relationship with her husband and other family members improved. She also felt more able to cope with her caring role and more confident about planning and organising future breaks.
She said, "Having a bath is a real treat for us as we only have a wet room. The hot bath helps ease the aches and pains of my arthritis. Plus, Mark does not like leaving the house but these 2 breaks have given him the confidence to go away from home for a meal and an overnight stay. It was good to see him smiling".
Simon indicated that he was trying to get out for a walk everyday as he feels better when he is outdoors. In discussions about what would make it easier for him to cope with his caring role it was agreed that he would apply for a Time to Live grant to pay for 10 sessions at a local fishery which is open all round.
In his application he said, "I gave up my work through stress and began looking after my father. Finances are very low and the chance to enjoy life rarely comes along. I do not regret caring for my father however it can be very hard at times. I think a regular break outdoors, in the peace and quiet, doing something that I know makes me feel relaxed would help me to cope with my role as a carer".
With his grant, Simon was able to pay for 10 course fishing sessions and the cost of his transport to and from the fishery. He was also able to buy a fishing rod and reel. When Simon completed his evaluation, he was very positive indeed, saying that he felt more able to cope with, and to have a life outside of, his caring role. He also reported improved health and wellbeing for himself and for this dad as well as an improvement in his relationship with his father and said that he felt more confident about planning and organising future breaks.
He said "It can be very challenging living with and caring for my dad. The grant helped me mentally and emotionally as I have been able to do something I love. This in turn reduces stress between me and my dad".
In an attempt to improve his own health and wellbeing and enjoy an activity away from his caring role, John had attended some music therapy sessions privately which he found very beneficial. These provided much needed respite from the stresses of daily life and allowed him to combine his love of singing with playing the guitar. Unfortunately, he could only attend these on a very limited basis because of cost considerations, particularly as he was no longer working.
Supported by his Carer Support Worker, John applied for a Time to Live grant for a block of music therapy sessions and was awarded £300 which allowed him to attend weekly sessions for a period of 10 weeks.
Below is an extract from an email John sent up at the end of his 10 week block;
The funding awarded to me by The Carers Centre has provided me with an excellent platform to improve & develop musical skills, increase my self confidence by learning many new songs, singing & playing guitar, mandolin, ukulele. The latter two instruments I had had for a number of years but felt unable to immerse myself in learning to play them.
To pull all of these strands together; Jane asked me to write a piece of music, which we recorded over a few sessions towards the end of my 10 weeks. I have attached an MP3 copy of a clip of the recording of “Callan’s Tune” in celebration of our new grandson who was born this Autumn. I hope to add lyrics, with my wife’s help in the not too distant future.
I would wholeheartedly recommend this type of therapy to other carers, as it has provided me with an opportunity to develop an identity & an identity away from the caring part of my life, which has continued to have an impact on my health. I intend to continue with my music therapy as long as I can, as it is a very positive environment to be associated with & continues provide a balance to my life. You could say that it is still work in progress however if I can make similar progress over the coming months I will be very happy.
In his evaluation, John indicated that, as a result of his break, his mental/emotional health improved, he felt less stressed and less tired, he felt more able to have a life outside his caring tole and that his relationship with the person he cares for improved.
What Falkirk & Clackmannanshire Carers Centre has learnedWe have been successful in allocating funding to carers across Falkirk and Clackmannanshire and achieving the outcomes we had anticipated, and we have many great examples of this. However, our monitoring shows that we need to do more to promote next year's fund to harder to reach carers such as Black Minority Ethnic and Gypsy/Traveller carers.
Our experience of setting up, facilitating and monitoring our funding from the Short Breaks Fund has once again helped us to manage and successfully allocate additional funding from the Falkirk Integrated Care Fund, allowing us to allocate Time to Live grants to an additional 47 carers in the Short Breaks Fund grant period bringing the total number of carers benefiting from awards to 110.
In each round of funding we have had, we have been able to reach different carers; 62% of awards were allocated to carers who were new to the organisation in the period and 80% of all awards were to carers who had not previously received a Time to Live grant and the remaining 20% had received only one previous award which is currently the maximum number of grants that any carer can receive from the fund.
Many of the awards will have an ongoing benefit to carers where, for example, they have been able to return to a hobby they previously enjoyed, they have purchased equipment that will have lasting benefits, or they have been encouraged and feel more confident about arranging future breaks themselves.
A large number of awards were allocated to carers who have little or no support from other sources. This type of support is particularly useful for carers who, because of their circumstances or those of the person they care for, find it difficult to access support and services that are available. Awards can be used imaginatively to provide breaks that can be adapted to fit in with the carer's individual circumstances and achieve positive outcomes for the carer which can help sustain their caring role while maintaining their own health and wellbeing.