Aberdeenshire Creative Breaks
A story by VSA Aberdeen City
We provided grants directly to carers who live in Aberdeenshire and are aged 18years and over and have a caring role as a parent, partner, relative or friend. These carers provide care to people who have a huge variety of health conditions such as Dementia, Parkinsons, M.S. and cancers as well as those who care for adults with Additional Support Needs and the frail and elderly.
What Aberdeenshire Creative Breaks did
The application process is completed using a form specific to carers aged under/over 65years of age. Forms are available to carers via our VSA website, through professional requests/referrals, either in hard copy or electronically to carers via staff at any of our carers service centres. Completion of the actual form can, and predominately is, supported [on a face to face basis] by our Carers Support and Development workers. Forms are processed using the pathway we developed in order to handle applications from such a wide geographical area and to avoid relying upon the postal service.
Monthly Panel meetings, involving representation from Care Managements Teams, Social Work and third sector services take place across north, south and central Aberdeenshire. Each panel has a minimum of three professionals chaired by a member of VSA Carers Service staff. A VSA Information and Advice Worker is also in attendance taking notes of all applications discussed and further information when required. Applications agreed are then listed for award our process. Applications in need of further information are directed back to the staff member responsible for submission and listed to be carried forward to the next panel pending receipt of further information. Applications declined by the panel are again listed, staff member notified and letter posted to carer with full explanation of reasons behind decision.
Funding is promoted via our quarterly Carers In Touch Newsletter, VSA website, posters, e-bulletin to professionals, carers support groups/forums and word of mouth via Carers Support and Development worker staff and through Aberdeenshire Councils Intranet.
I have been a carer for close family members for over 20 years and have had various levels of stress over that time. Throughout the years of being a carer I have never had the energy to try something new, but this has given me the opportunity without adding more stress, because when you are a carer even pleasurable new activities can cause anxiety as it is a change in routine.
I have always wanted to sing with the choir but have never had the confidence. I have now attended a singing workshop and also sang with the choir at an event in Inverurie. It was very scary but exhilarating and I really enjoyed it.
The whole experience has been so beneficial to me…when I feel stressed I stick on the backing track cd and belt it out, it has been the only thing recently which has helped me relax and unwind, all other thoughts (especially negative ones) go out of my head as I have to concentrate. It is also very sociable as I meet others with similar interests and I can forget about being a carer for a short time. Both my sons like music and I often sing to them. Your funding has given me a chance of a new and enjoyable experience and I can feel the benefits.”
Mary Hay, Carer from Oldmeldrum.
What VSA Aberdeen City has learnedPartnership working can be very successful when organised and facilitated properly and is sustainable for carers and care recipients. This is a way to promote our carers service as a whole as fun ding for Creative Breaks is appreciated by carers and allows us as a service to highlight to professionals the vast range of services we can provide. Carers enjoy and want to socialise within their local community but due to their caring role this can be difficult. We have recognised this and have worked with partner agencies to provide opportunities for the carer and care recipient to enjoy quality time together within a community setting.
Challenges we have overcome - Aberdeenshire covers 2437 square miles and the logistics of completing and submitting documents which contain personal information had been challenging. However, we have now developed an effective pathway which ensures applications are administered and considered at panels throughout Aberdeenshire. .