Carers Choice Befriending Service
A story by The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice
The Carers Choice Service offered carers an opportunity to have a short break, a we provided a volunteer befriender to spend time with the cared for person. Carers were then offered a choice of accessing hospice based support, or using the time in whatever way is most helpful to them.
What Carers Choice Befriending Service did
The Carers Choice Service is advertised on the Hospice website, Facebook and The Evening Times. Leaflets are also available to carers and patients, offering information and advice on how to refer. The service is managed by a Senior Charge Nurse and 2 Support Workers who are responsible for delivering the service and supporting the volunteer befrienders. Volunteers are recruited through volunteer centres, social media, newspaper and our initial cohort of hospice volunteers. A robust training programme was completed by volunteer befrienders in year one, and we have repeated this process with more volunteers as needed, all volunteer befrienders participate in a final interview. Hospice carers are supported by offering a volunteer befriender to sit with the patient for 3 hours once a week, over an 8-week period. This can be increased to 16 weeks at the carers request. If carers still require the service thereafter, they can be re referred and contunue to access support. Carers use this time to catch up with family and friends and to access social, leisure and recreational activities which helps them have a short break from their caring role. Alternatively, it also allows them time to access therapeutic hospice services.The volunteer befriender carries out a purely social role, allowing the patient time to spend with someone else outwith their family. The befriender remains in the house with the patient and participate in activities such as reading the paper, hobbies, crosswords or just chatting about interests. Carers are referred to the service by hospice staff, who identify patients and cares who would benefit from this service.
What The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice has learned
A realisation that 1 carer is part of a wider network of carers for the one person and that by providing the befriending service often more than 1 carer benefits from the service
An understanding that carers who are looking for more than one day per week support from the befriending service are often the most distressed and in need of additional support
Often the carers feel guilty if they were using the time to do something nice for themselves and that by providing something different for the cared for person , like a hand massage , the carers felt less guilty. We are now training all our befrienders in hand massage techniques to be able to deliver a pamper session for the patient while the carer is having their break, both men and woman enjoy this pamper!
How The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice has benefitted from the funding
This funding has allowed us to develop a robust service for carers. During the periods of funding we have used quality improvement techniques to respond to service evaluation and feedback to continually develop and expand the service in the true spirit of co-production. The funding has also allowed us to develop the experience and skills of our volunteers in the community. The training for this group of volunteers has helped inform further projects which fully utilise the often untapped resource which lies in volunteers to better support palliative care patients and their families referred to the hospice.
55 Carers of hospice patients living with life limiting illnesses, will have improved well-being
60 Carers of hospice patients living with life limiting illnesses, had improved well-being.
Fiona is caring for her husband Frank with a life limiting respiratory condition, where Frank suffers from frequent exacerbation's of his condition. When these exacerbation's occur it increases the burden of care for Fiona and this is exhausting over months and has the potential to be over years. Fiona said that she did not realise quite how stressed she was feeling until she was able to have time to herself. Fiona was able to spend relaxing time with her sister, knowing that Frank was enjoying his time with the befriender. After receiving the service she said "I feel able to cope better with Frank’s needs" The initial assessment that is carried out enables the needs of the carer and patient to be individually assessed. This assessment allows the assessor, who is one of the hospice team, to truly match the volunteer befrienders to the patient. Fiona felt Frank had a lot in common with the befriender who shared an interest in art, which contributed to her feeling more able to go and relax herself, knowing that Frank was also enjoying himself. Fiona felt that the service allowed her to be more relaxed generally because of the respite she had and that this had the benefit of increasing communication between her and Frank. Fiona said that they had more to talk about when together because of the quality time they both had had individually, improving both their well-being. The word Fiona used to describe the service “Brilliant”
55 Carers of hospice patients will have the opportunity to enjoy life out with their caring role.
60 Carers of hospice patients had the opportunity to enjoy life out with their caring role.
The carer Susan, had recently moved back to this area after her husband Joe had a Lung cancer diagnosis, to be near family, and had no social network within area. The couple had initially moved in with their daughter and then onto rented accommodation, which was much smaller than the house that they were used to. Previously the couple had been working, had a regular income and many social and leisure pursuits which they no longer had the income or social network to engage in. Susan admitted to feeling very stressed at first assessment as she had gone from going out to work to being a full time carer, in a different part of the country, in a very short space of time and was feeling very isolated. Susan said that the service allowed her to have some time that was her own where she chose to do some window shopping and spend quality time with her daughter. Susan said that "Joe gets the chance to talk a lot about his hobbies without me moaning!" She felt the befriender and her husband got on really well and that it allowed her to have a life outside the caring role. She described the service as" FAB" and was very keen to engage with it again after her initial slots were completed.
55 Carers of hospice patients will feel better supported to sustain their caring role.
60 Carers of hospice patients felt better supported to sustain their caring role.
Ian and Jackie care for Ian’s dad Peter who has metastatic lung cancer and is now wheelchair bound. Ian and Jackie share the caring role while continuing to work full time with a full package of care supporting Peter in their absence. However this means that their time off work is filled with caring for Peter and allows them very little time to relax. In their words introducing the Carers Choice service “Both me and Ian relaxed” “Allowed more time for our personal life” “The befriender and Peter had a lot in common, she made Dad laugh and not many people can do that.” The service allowed these carers to continue to work knowing that Peter was having a relaxed happy time with the befriender. The service meant that when they were off work they could spend some time together as a couple, independently, knowing that Peter was less isolated because of the input provided by the service. They said the service was “Great” and have now used the service on 3 separate occasions to help sustain them in their caring role.