Time for Me - Adult Carers across Oban, Lorn and Isles
A story by North Argyll Carers Centre
We provided monthly Time for Me support groups, creative therapies and a residential respite break for adult carers living in rural and remote locations.
This enabled carers to get a break from their caring role, focus on their own health and well-being, and create enduring peer support relationships.
What Time for Me - Adult Carers across Oban, Lorn and Isles did
Our project ran a series of monthly group meetings in remote and rural areas. These were held in village halls in Taynuilt, Dalmally, Port Appin, Kilmelford and Tobermory on a monthly basis with Tiree group coming together 6 times over the year. The groups are run with a varied programme of activities and are open to carers and cared for.
The groups allow people living in remote & rural communities an opportunity for social interaction on a regular basis, and by opening the groups to all, including carers and cared for they are inclusive and allow carers a opportunity to socialise locally. Our groups help promote the support that NACC offers carers in remote & rural areas, and attract unidentified carers.
Fitness instructors have joined us to lead gentle exercise, and historians have led fascinating discussions. We have had reminiscence sessions as part of the annual ‘To Absent Friends’ Festival. Local Primary Schools have joined us for inter-generational sessions, together with local music groups. We invite local people along to share skills, and they are happy to donate their time & materials free of charge to the groups to help support us.
We also run a monthly group in Tobermory, Isle of Mull, ‘Time for Me’, specifically for carers, with a similar monthly programme. Groups are promoted in local Facebook Groups, as well as by posters displayed in prominent local venues and monthly group reminder emails. Attendance most often increases by word of mouth.
We offered therapies to carers enabling access to relaxation and time out in a place and a time that suited them.
We took a group of carers to Tiree for a Residential Retreat Yoga & Mindfulness, in September 2019, working in partnership with The Hebridean Trust.
What North Argyll Carers Centre has learned
Having groups open to both carers and cared for has made it possible for so many more people to attend our groups. Hidden carers are regularly identified by us at groups. So many carers see themselves as ‘just looking after a partner’, but once they hear other carers talking they are much more likely to identify themselves as carers, and receive support from North Argyll Carers Centre.
Inviting members of the community to participate in our groups by employing their individual skills, is a great way to raise the profile of North Argyll Carers Centre in the community. An example, Local historian talking to group encouraged members of local historical societies to come along & find out about the regular groups and the work of North Argyll Carers Centre. Working with Primary Schools on inter-generational projects has been very successful and has been commended by Head Teachers.
How North Argyll Carers Centre has benefitted from the funding
We continue to develop our community based partnerships across the area of Oban, Lorn and Isles and are particularly delighted in rise in intergenerational work with local schools. We continue to use practice and learning from these projects to lobby for preventative creative short breaks for carers across the area we feedback on success of this work through mechanisms such as Argyll and Bute Carers Partnership where we connect with other carers organisations and also representation from our Health and Social Care Partnership. We are as an organisation developing our expertise and through Shared Care Scotland supporting learning and development of staff we are developing our long term resources and also creating a learning environment in our establishment.
Carers will be enabled to access creative therapies and counselling across rural and remote areas and feel an improvement in their well-being and report reduced stress levels.
We asked for feedback from those who attended the activities/ the residential trip and creative therapies. We have noted that all those who had appointments returned for repeat appointments for therapies. We have asked about the difference the activities/ therapies/trip has made to life before and after, and the challenges that they faced in coming away from everyday life. We have also communicated the impact to our colleagues in health and social care in relation to respite challenges, transport etc. " She is a great therapist, I feel so much better for time with her" Carer from rural Argyll accessing therapies. "I didn't ever have the time before but now its good to have that time to talk, and she calls me and we talk on the phone if I cant make it in for my appointment, it is so helpful, thank you" Bereaved carer accessing service.
Carer C supports his wife. He lives on one of the islands of Oban, Lorn and Isles area. He is in a 24/7 caring role. Due to lack of paid care on the island setting Carer C does the majority of personal care alongside emotional support as his wife lives with a progressive illness. He reported feeling tired, overwhelmed and without hope. By connecting with our support service and accessing therapies and being enabled by our sitting service to have regular time out he has called the support "a lifeline". He now feels open to further support and has agreed to accept further support, and we are working on ways to encourage and support regular respite and "Time for Me". Nursing staff supporting have also commented on the difference in the carer reflecting that they notice a positive change in the carer.
Carers will have the opportunity to access a residential respite break or be part of a shorter creative therapies writing/ photography project.
This has been achieved and carers enjoyed a respite break on Tiree with the focus on wellness and mindfulness. Feedback from the trip has been really positive with all reporting the trip a success. Participants feedback: ‘A lovely tonic for me on this magical island’. ‘It is so relaxing & it makes me happy. You just don’t want to leave’. ‘Feeling relaxed and refreshed on my first trip to the lovely island of Tiree. Lots of laughs with a bunch of very friendly ladies. Eaten too much, but plenty walks in the fresh air, and even a few yoga poses to compensate! Very enjoyable’. ‘Felt so relaxed as soon as I got on the ferry. Lovely companions. No pressure at all for the whole week. Great food. Mairi is a wonderful host. Feeling totally recharged’. On the way home, refreshed by a very sociable experience. Have made new friends & shared experiences with people in a similar situation. This was very positive, and I have learned more about myself. Thanks’.
Time out on Tiree Residential (Mediation and Yoga) Carer L, aged 65, is a full time carer for her husband who had a severe stroke in 2010, and is unable to communicate verbally. We met L when she came into the Carers Centre to ask for help with accessing respite through the Social Work Department, as she was reaching crisis point in her caring role. We offered L a place on our trip to Tiree suggesting she join the trip if respite for her husband could be arranged, and we offered support through this process. We liaised with Social Work locally to ask about arranging for her husband to be admitted to a local Care Home to enable her to travel to Tiree with the group. Initially she was apprehensive about travelling with a group and spending time together with other carers she didn’t know, but after a pre-trip get together for the group she felt more reassured. Yoga was new to her, but she was up every morning for the sessions at 7.30 am, which she thoroughly enjoyed. The most rewarding thing was to watch carer L’s face relax as the week progressed, and to see her smiling more and more. She became good friends with the other carers in the group and they swapped phone numbers & have arranged to keep in touch and meet up regularly after returning home. She also enjoyed being able to support one of the less physically able carers while on Tiree. Carer L also intends joining our weekly yoga group in Oban for carers, and feels that the trip to Tiree has opened her up to a life outside caring which she had previously not thought possible.
The combination of group and developing peer support will reduce the feeling of isolation common to carers in rural, remote and island areas, increase inclusion and natural extended peer support will continue to develop.
This outcome has been achieved in that carers from across the Oban, Lorn and Isles area have accessed peer support groups across the area. With a combination of interest areas, time for reflection and in a safe and supported space groups have increased in size and support has been so positive for those attending. People come to groups and keep coming back and word of mouth has been our most positive promotional tool.
Carer C lives on the Isle of Mull, and attends the monthly ‘Tobermory Time for Me’ Group. Her husband has Dementia and his condition has deteriorated to the point where he has been admitted to hospital on the mainland. Carer C travels by buses & ferries very regularly to make the approx.7 hr. day trip to visit her husband. Carer C had been unable to attend a previous retreat on Tiree with other Mull carers due to the demanding caring role she had, so was very excited to be able to join our Yoga & Mindfulness Retreat in September 2019, as her husband is now receiving hospital care. During the retreat she made friends with the other mainland carers and they have encouraged her to take time to meet up in Oban and break the long journey while visiting her husband in Lochgilphead. Her caring role remains difficult despite her husband being in hospital as she is a loyal and faithful wife who does not want to give up on her husband even if he fails to recognise her on her visits, so having caring friends to meet up with in Oban after a visit makes it so much easier for her. Having peer support and spending time with others who understand her feelings is invaluable, and a direct result of being part of the Time for Me Group in Tobermory and the Tiree Respite Trip, Carer C definitely feels better supported to sustain her caring role. Through ongoing connections with our Island Carer Support Worker, and the group she has accessed services such as POA clinic that have been of direct support for her caring role. Carer O cares for her husband who has Parkinson's Disease & other as yet undiagnosed conditions, and is now confined to a wheelchair. They are both in their 70’s and have always been very active in the village community up until recent years. As her husband’s condition has deteriorated considerably over the past year, carer O has found it more and more difficult to get out and socialise with him, and their involvement in local events had stopped. Our Group is jointly run by our Learning & Development Coordinator and our Outreach Carer Support Worker, so by encouraging carer O and her husband to attend the group we are able to support them to help improve both mental and physical well-being. Our monthly activities encourage gentle exercise to improve balance and strength, and are all adaptable for wheelchair users. Our quizzes improve memory skills, and being socially active reduces feelings of isolation and improves mental well-being. Carer O is able to have one to one discussions with our Outreach Carer Support Worker, while her husband participates in activities, and her husband has been able to use his musical skills to entertain the group which has given him a greatly needed sense of worth again. Definitely a win win situation for both carer and cared for.