Adult Short Breaks Project
A story by Interest Link Borders
We provided 1:1 and group befriending for adults with learning disabilities living in the Scottish Borders. This improved their quality of life and gave their family carers the chance to enjoy a life outside of their caring role. The service was delivered entirely by volunteers.
What Adult Short Breaks Project did
During the year, we provided 1:1 and group links to 62 adults with learning disabilities aged 20+. Carers did a wide variety of things with the time available to them: some caught up with friends and did community activities such as evening classes, others had the chance to pay more attention to their other children or just have a quiet time at home.
Most of the 1:1 links met weekly or fortnightly and did community activities of all types, such as like evening classes, arts & crafts, golf, the cinema, cycling, local events, walks, swimming, shopping, dance classes and football.
We piloted 1:1 overnight trips to Newcastle and Edinburgh, which went very well and we will look at making them a regular part of our projects.
The groups were varied: In Galashiels we ran the groups as in-house evening classes in arts & crafts, cooking and health & fitness. There were three terms of 6 weeks each. In Hawick, the Caledonian Group has now been meeting for over 12 years: we commissioned an evaluation of the group looking at the wide and varied activities they have done over the years and what the group has meant to its members. In Coldstream, a new group had the run of community centre’s facilities and enjoyed table-tennis, badminton, cooking and pool. At the end of the project we also started a group for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities in a nursing home in Duns: The group uses intensive interaction techniques using sound and colour to overcome the communication problems faced by service users who are paralysed physically and have little or no speech.
Two years ago he would never have been visiting castles or jumping out of trees on adventure activity challenges. But since meeting up with his buddy he hasn’t looked back.
The whole Interest Link network has meant that parents have also linked up with each other and this is greatly valued by Emma: “Another important aspect is being able to speak to other parents who are in a similar position. Some may be a step ahead of where we are or others are a step behind but we all help support each other.”
David’s mum says “it makes a lot of difference to David. He likes getting out to see people. He’s not spending as much time in the house. He loves the Group. All week he’s telling us about it and that he’ll be out on Wednesday evening. He looks forward to it and is generally a much happier person. It’s quiet in the house without him; we enjoy the respite.”
Luke is a regular attendee at our baking classes and even presented our tutor Debbie with a beautiful bouquet of flowers that the floral art class made especially. His chatter keeps the whole class going.
Luke had regular and significant seizures when he first joined us and we had to risk assess this and ensure that his father was happy with our procedures as he was nervous. He used to stay within ten minutes of the venue we were at just in case, but now drops Luke off and goes off to run errands or put his feet up whilst Luke is baking up a storm in the kitchen for their supper. It’s a win-win situation.
What Interest Link Borders has learnedWe have traditionally avoided overnight stays due to concerns over personal care needs having to be met by volunteers. However, we looked at the issue again and identified several links where problems were unlikely to arise.
We piloted overnight trips to Newcastle and Edinburgh with 2 well-established 1:1 befriending links and they were a great success, adding greatly to the relationships. Next goal is to take a befriending group away!