A story by Space & Broomhouse Hub
Our Project was to support 40 older people with Dementia to attend our day care service at the Broomhouse Hub. Depending on covid-19 restrictions each older person will be offered one day short break which improves their quality of life whilst offering valued respite to their carers.
What Beacon Club did
From May 2021 We contacted all carers to discuss bringing back a smaller one to one limited Beacon Club service. We discussed immunisation of members, staff and volunteers and ongoing LFT testing. We talking through procedures for coming on and off the transport and movement into and around the building any other concerns they or their loved one may have and we shared copies of all risk assessments.
We offered alternating mornings 09.00am -12.00 or afternoon 13.00 -15.00 hour sessions for each member, one to one with a staff member/ volunteer per week at the Broomhouse Hub. This involved pick up, having breakfast/lunch with a range of activities and then drop off. By May we had 29 existing members and over the following months we added another 11 new members who were referred to us through, Community Link Workers, Edinburgh City Council’s home care team and social work department, Doctors and family members.
This gave carers a 3 hour window to have a break and from the feedback we received from carers this included, meeting friends for a coffee, shopping, going to the gym, getting their hair cut, meeting friends for lunch, catching up on housework, going for a walk, participating in some personal wellness training on zoom.
To be able to make the project successful we increase staff hours giving each member of staff an extra working day along with our volunteers so that 30 members each week could come to the hub and their carers could have a short break and feel better supported to sustain their caring role. We used our minibus for the more able body members and taxis for wheelchair users. We had a special breakfast and lunch menu and after being kept a home for over a year and a half all our members were delighted to go get out of their homes for a break, “it gives me something to look forward to in my week” and have people to chat to. Carers were also very appreciative of the short break “the 3 hours have been heavenly for me you have no idea how much I appreciated that time to myself
What Space & Broomhouse Hub has learned
When we originally applied for the funding we were hoping to start our full day service from January 202. Because this could not happen we completed a Project Variation Form asking for the original funding we had received to be allocated to staff so we could facilitate more one to one meeting with our members which meant that we could bring 30 members to the hub each week for 3 hours. It was fantastic that Creative Breaks could be flexible with our project as no one knew how many months we would continue in lock down.
At the present time we have been inundated with referrals we are supporting 40 members per week and have a waiting list of 11 people disparate for day care services. Over the last year we have been developing a new befriending service called Space Age Connection and have received funding from Life Changes Trust to run and 18 month project to set up 10 matches in the South West of Edinburgh. We felt that going forward it was important to offer a more blended service giving people the choice of day care or befriending or both if possible.
One request we have been receiving regular from carers who do not live in the same city to their loved ones is for local volunteers who can accompany people out for a short walk as lots of elderly people have become anxious about going out of their homes and have also lost confidence and are experiencing reduced mobility through lack of leaving their homes. Through our links in the community we have built up a small 5 people team of people who have been meeting with up to 7 people per week to accompany them for local walks.
We also set up a telephone befriending service offering 20 elderly people a once per week telephone call with one of our members of staff as we were receiving a lot of request from different organisations such as the social work department, GP Surgery and community link workers looking for elderly support.
How Space & Broomhouse Hub has benefitted from the funding
Because of the pandemic, 2020- 2021 has been a very unusual year to run our services with a lot of uncertainty stress, anxiety and worry for not only or members and their carers but also for our staff. People coming back into the world after being in lock down and on furlough has added further worries and we are not in any way back to any sense of normality even yet. Learning has included more need for IT training and support for both our members and their carers so going forward we will be working it training agencies to offer this support. It also became very apparent last year that some of our members would not be able to return to our service because of issues such as their physical and mental health had diminished but we are very aware that carers still need rest bite so we looked at setting up a befriending service and put in a successful bid to Life Changes Trust who gave us funding to set up a befriending piolet project. We are also in talks with another organisation to take our day care service over to the South East of Edinburgh offering 4 days per week for 40 people.
From January 2021 onwards we will provide accessible short break activities for 40 carers by reopening the Beacon Club to offer 4 days of services for cared for older people. We will deliver 4 days of day care for older people with dementia: each day lasts from 09.30 to 3.30
With Scotland going back into full lockdown in January 2021 we were unable to bring our members back to a full day service. We continued to call and arrange outside visit for those that were able and organise outside activities for as many as we could this included meeting for walks and coffee in cafes when it was allowed and arranging Joy Ride cycle trips for all. With the Scottish Governments Roadmap timetable for easing restrictions at the end of April 2021 we commenced our one to one service half day service on the 3rd May 2021 and over the following 2 month we had 80 visits by our members to hub for a half day break giving their carers 240 hours of rest bite over the same period. From the end of June 2021 we started to up the numbers per half day session to 2 members and one member of staff and continued this until the end of September giving a further 260 visits by members and 780 rest bite for carers.
Stewart is 86 and lives with his wife Karen who is 75, Stewart was diagnosed with dementia 2015 and as his illness has progressed he has become more and more reliant on Karen for support and she has slowly over the last few years taken on the role as his main carer. Pre-pandemic Stewart care package consisted of a twice per day service with morning support for washing and dressing and evening support to help Stewart to get ready for bed. Because of shortage over the pandemic this package was cut to once per day morning service. Stewart and Karen have 3 children who live in various parts of the UK. They all work full time and support their parents as much as possible with weekend and evening visits but over the pandemic Stewart and Karen were very much on their own and isolated. I completed a home visit in May 2021 and had a long chat with Karen who was feeling very depressed, overwhelmed and lonely, when I asked Karen to tell me a little about herself she became really upset and told me “no one ever asks about me, it’s usually about Stewart”. We discussed the day and session that would suit both herself and Stewart to come along to the club and Stewart started attending the following week. I also shared with Karen some carer services that were available for her. Stewart settled into the club very quickly and as the weeks went by and lockdown restrictions eased we were able to up our numbers to the morning and afternoon session and Stewart made lots of new friends, took part in numerous activities and had few trips to local parks. I called Karen at the end of July for a catch up on how she was doing and to give her an update on Stewart. Karen was really happy that Stewart was really enjoying the club and looked forward to coming along each week, she said the break was invaluable to her and really helped her mental health, “Those regular few hours to myself each week meant that I could plan time for me, something that I have not been able to do for ever such a long time. I could book some pampering sessions for myself, hair and nails, catch up with my friends for walks and coffee and even lunch. Having that short break to myself has been absolutely fantastic for my mental health and something I have absolutely looked forward to ever week, I feel so much better because of it”
Carers will tell us they have been able to access short break activities that has made them feel less isolated, connected and supported We will deliver 4 days of day care for older people with dementia: each day lasts from 09.30 to 3.30 We will keep in monthly contact with carers.
Unfortunately due to the pandemic we couldn’t open our service until May 2021 and even then it had to be on a reduced scale, Over the Christmas period we managed to bring all our members to the hub for Christmas Lunch and in the New Year arranged garden visits and outside walks and meeting in cafes when available. For the members the outside visits and outside activities such as going for a cycle was really beneficial but for the carers as it was not so regular or long it was hard for them to plan to do something for themselves. We spoke to the carers every few weeks to see how they were doing and to offer and help or advice we could and as soon as we were able in May 2021 we brought the members back to the hub for one to one sessions in the morning or afternoon. Carers were very keen to be able to have a break even though it was only 3 hour per week. For the carers a short break after for some over 18 months of continues care was extremely welcome and very much needed.
Rodger has been attending the Beacon Club for some years, Ann, his wife has been Rodger’s main carer for over 10 year. In the last year their only son Peter moved to France with work and this has left a big hole in the lives of his parents as Peter helped with his father’s care and was a big support for his mother. Both Ann and Roger have also struggled more on over the last years with Rodger’s own health deteriorating and Ann’s mental health also suffering with the restrictions of the pandemic. Chatting with Ann over the phone weekly it was obvious that as the months rolled by she was feeling more and more emotionally washed out and exhausted. With the club opening up again in May 2021 carers were able to have a few hours respite, Ann asked if we could help her find a walking group or fitness class she could attend. We has a look around and managed to find her a seated yoga class that was local to her and a local walking group that she could attend when Rodger was at the Beacon Club. 4 month later and Ann is still really enjoying her groups, she has made new friends and says she feel reinvigorated and better equipped to take on the world. Through the Scottish Governments digital connection scheme we got Ann a laptop and internet dongle, she previous has not it skills, internet access or equipment, we organised some 1 to 1 basic IT training for her and now she is attending an on line zoom mental wellness course. Also she has learned how to set up face time and both she and Roger have been able to chat to Scott every day which they are delighted about. Ann’s says “I have loved having 3 hours per week to myself it doesn’t seem like a lot but post pandemic it has helped enormously to my own wellbeing and mental health and I can’t thank your service enough for all the support you have given not only Roger but myself at times it’s been my only life line”