A story by Angus Carers Centre
We provided short breaks for young carers and adult carers facilitating group work programmes and social activities in various locations in Angus, and beyond for carers (and in some cases the cared for as well), who have not previously accessed our preventative programmes.
What Active Care did
Our programmes were advertise in our quarterly newsletter which goes out to all registered carers. Carers are asked to return a a reply slip to all the activities they are interested in attending. The Carer Development Workers also encourage carers to come along to the groups, particularly those who they feel are isolated or those who may be able to provide peer support to carers attending for this first time.
The programme include a weekly gardening group where carers tended the garden at the back of the Carers Centre and a crafty carers group where the emphasis was on getting a break rather having to be really artistic. However we did discover a great deal of talent in the group! As the programme progressed some carers volunteered to lead some sessions and they thrived in getting the chance to use skills they had not been able to use for a long time to the benefit of others.
Carers went on walking trips in the beautiful Angus Glens, shopping trips which, for many, were the first time away for the whole day for a long time. This gave staff in attendance the change to build relationships with the carers and get involved in shared experiences which could later be reflected on. This helps to build trust with carers who then open up about their situations. These trips were also supported by our Take- A –Break Scheme where we can provide flexible personal care assistance for the cared person to reassure the carer while they are away.
The carers loved the chance to meet new people (some from the same towns), who could understand the life they were living, they could share stories, hints and tips on how to get by and enjoy a relatively stress free day. New friends were made which continued outwith the Careers Centre programme.
Since attending the group she says it has made a great difference knowing she can see new friends outside the home. While attending the Carers Group she has reflected on how long she can look after her husband without a break. She appreciates now that it is important for her to recharge her batteries now and again, and even let family members help out more.
“It definitely has lifted my spirits greatly, you can’t imagine how much better I feel being able to meet up with people I haven’t seen for ages, literally, I’ve even had my eyes tested !! I can’t thank you all enough for helping me”.
He now attends the craft groups regularly and really enjoys the gardening group. He says the service has always been accommodating and feels his health and wellbeing have both improved as his ‘free time’ is valued. He says: “I think it is a wonderful service and the crowning gem is that it costs me nothing”
Carer C feels more supported having been involved in our programmes. Although she only comes to the Theatre Trips and some of the pampering events she says this this is enough to give her something to look forward to and she knows she can phone us at any other time if she wants to have a chat about how she is feeling but dosen't want to worry her children that she is not coping.
What Angus Carers Centre has learnedThis funding has provided us with an opportunity to test out a different way of working with carers by providing a programme of activities which has a social focus and open to everyone. This has given support staff another level of activity which they can invite carers too, particularly those who haven’t attended our carers training events or other information sessions. By attending these programmes the carers get a chance to visit the centre (or one of the other community venues) and can find out more about what we do.
Although carers had asked for more activities where the cared for person can attend we actually found the demand for this to much lower than expected. The only activity were this model has been asked for and remained an element of the progamme is in the reminisce groups that Carer Support Workers run in partnership with local libraries, (a development which has happened during the time of this funding). This of course may be due to who was involved in the initial consultation and, probable how they were feeling that day. The challenge for us is to continue to check out with carers what approach they want us to take and continue to give then the option of a break away from the house and the usual routine but with their loved one as well as promoting carer only programmes.
This fund has given us the opportunity to open out our programme to provide many more activities at the preventative level to carers who may not be on the social work or health 'radar', but perhaps should be.This has been a really safe way for them to get to know staff and feel more able to ask for support at a more formal level.
We know that the restrictions on the geographic venues we use can affects carers ability to attend the programmes .We need to build on our community networks to attract more staff and volunteers fro other organisations to support our programmes. The recruitment of our new Carer Engagement Worker will be a fantastic resource to our team to build on these relationships with other community and voluntary groups as well as locally based staff in statutory services.