A story by Cosgrove Care
Bright Futures is an online activity programme designed to help carers and younger cared people with learning disabilities connect and focus on resilience and wellbeing, it transitioned to face to face during 2022.
In addition, Bright Futures has delivered 10 x 2 day short breaks and a fun day.
What Bright Futures did
Bright Futures a project for young adults with learning disabilities, autism and additional needs (aged 21 to 40) and their families living in East Renfrewshire, Glasgow and South Lanarkshire.
We delivered three blocks of 8 weeks of online sessions, 10 sleepovers and an activity day at Rouken Glen Park. All supported people had a 1:1 support buddy to assist them to access technology, the sessions evolved to face to face sessions as restrictions lifted. We secured referrals through social work, education and self referral- some families accessed more than one block of 8 weeks. Carers enjoyed the time they had to shop, recharge batteries and be with other family members.
We found the recruitment and engagement of volunteers a positive element of Bright Futures, allowing us to broaden activities. We addressed the Creative Principles of mutual benefit by providing support to cared people and carers, personalisation through working on a 1:1 basis with carers to achieve their personal goals, targeted support through listening and responding to the needs of carers and cared for people and shaping activity around these needs. We have also focused on developing skills and knowledge of carers through our activity days, engaging them with other local services, supporting access to information to build self reliance and sharing ideas on available support.
Particular successes was the sleepovers, allowing carers to build confidence in their cared for person having a break locally with all safeguards included. The Project went largely to plan, we transitioned to face to face sessions which was very beneficial though retained some elements of online support as we now have creative hub which had allowed supported people to keep connected and supported by each other.
What Cosgrove Care has learned
Project Planning and Budgeting. COVID and rapid changes to guidelines has taught us the importance of flexibility in Project Planning, how we can use budgets creatively and how we need to be able to quickly respond to the needs of carers and cared for people safely and robustly. 2022 has been a year of transition and this allowed us to transition our Short Breaks Programme back to face to face, learning about what works and understanding the costs associated with transition.
Reaching out and Engaging New Families- COVID brought many carers and cared for people to a point of crisis, many who had not previously not accessed short breaks needed flexible support, the importance of effective promotion of our Short Breaks Funded activity, close interagency working to ensure effective referral methods and new referral methods, for example via volunteers, church and local groups, voluntary action groups helped us seek out and support families most in need.
Dealing with unexpected challenges or opportunities. Cosgrove learned from this project that flexibility in approach, dealing with ongoing anxieties of carers and cared for people and continued challenging guidelines requires us to be continually able to communicate and listen to people about how we continue to support them. Our Comms with families had to change to ensure we fully understood and could respond and we learned this and found new approaches.
How Cosgrove Care has benefitted from the funding
Cosgrove has really benefitted from Creative Breaks funding, we have developed online support, enhanced our volunteer network and support from local people, piloted new approaches such as the Friday night sleepover and developed new relationships and partnerships- such as Hanover Housing, Church of Scotland and Rouken Glen Park. This has helped our organisation build a stronger reputation and given us confidence to expand into new areas, building our knowledge and skills. We have developed our evaluation methods and benefitted from the toolkits and knowledge gained from being an organisation funded by Shared Care Scotland. Expanding to deliver services at other locations has been a big bonus for Cosgrove and the people and families we work with.
Carers who we support through the provision of our 4 short breaks will have experienced a positive break from their caring role, safe in the knowledge that their family member has had a great and fun holiday. Carers will have more opportunities to enjoy life out with their caring improving wellbeing
Carers told us that the local short break allowed them to enjoy time with other family members, re-charge their batteries, shop and relax. The local nature and safeguards relating to infection control offered assurance and promoted confidence allowing them to relax with resulting improved emotional and physical wellbeing.
M is a 26 years old with Down's Syndrome, autism and additional health issues. She lives at home with her mum ,dad and younger sister. During COVID, all formal supports were suspended and the family noted a significant deterioration in behaviour, mood and interaction. This impacted the family and made their caring role very challenging. They were unable to get emergency support to sustain them. Bright Futures offered sleepover and a 1:1 buddy for M and reconnected her with friends, giving the family a break. The family were able to re-charge their batteries and have been delighted to see an improvement in M's mental health, they have acknowledged the vital role that Bright Futures has played.
Carers who we support through the provision of our 4 short breaks will have experienced a positive break from their caring role, safe in the knowledge that their family member has had a great and fun holiday. Carers will have more opportunities to enjoy life outwith caring.
Many family members have confirmed that they have had more time to enjoy life outwith their caring long, after prolonged periods of less support, Bright Futures has allowed confidence to be built to reconnect and carers have indicated this has been very positive.
D is a young man with significant health care needs and a learning disability, he has no verbal communication and lives at home with his dad and two sisters. Dad had little contact with others carers and was isolated himself. Bright Futures has allowed him to make contact with others families, create new connections and enjoy time on his own, golfing and meeting with friends. He has said how supportive this has been in allowing him to enjoy life outwith his caring role.