Carers Communal Complementary Therapies
A story by PKAVS
This project increased the reach and frequency of social complementary therapy sessions. These sessions were delivered in more localities throughout Perth & Kinross and on a more regular basis.
These sessions combine access to a relaxing 45 minute therapy with an opportunity to socialise & meet other carers.
What Carers Communal Complementary Therapies did
This grant award was used to increase the frequency of existing social complementary therapy groups PKAVS already ran as well as increasing the number of localities where these groups were delivered. Unpaid carers could attend a social group at which they would be given a relaxing 45 complementary therapy session or their choosing. Either before or after their therapy (and on many occasions both) carers could then have a cup of tea or coffee and get the chance to talk to other carers and/or some of the PKAVS staff in attendance.
The feedback taken after each session have highlighted a number of additional benefits these social groups give carers beyond just the complementary therapy. Feedback mentions it gives carers something to look forward to and a pampering session that is just for them. The social groups allow friendships and peer support groups to form offering additional support away from when the groups meet.
It gives carers a chance to talk to PKAVS staff and be informed of other support that may be available as well as letting the carer mention if the caring situation is getting harder and whether we need to start thinking about offering additional support. Carers fed back they felt re-energised and better able to help support their cared for person after the social group. The reach of these groups has now increased since we received this funding with existing groups increasing in size and frequency and new groups created in new localities.
Despite this these groups are very popular with unpaid carers and so the biggest challenge is managing the demand so everyone who wants to attend can do so. Despite lockdown we had increased the reach & frequency of these groups from when we received the funding in October until the groups had to stop in late March.
What PKAVS has learned
The popularity of these sessions have meant we have had no option but to start to target the limited spaces available to the carers most in need. The demand isn’t dis-similar to many respite opportunities that are offered to carers and so the adult carers team are now looking at perhaps introducing a traffic light system (one of which has worked in the young carers service for many years) to ensure the limited resources we have are directed at those carers most in need.
However the expansion of the service that was funded through Creative Breaks last year did result in some positive examples of partnership working. Partners made space available to us to deliver services free of charge from within their premises. This was by existing premise holders that we already used but wanted to increase the frequency as well as new premise holders who we approached as these social complementary therapy groups were to be new to their area.
How PKAVS has benefitted from the funding
As mentioned below the number of carers who attended these social groups and the almost universal examples of positive feedback received meant this stood us in good stead to approach other funders to help meet the shortfall we had between this grant award and the total cost to deliver these services. Stagecoach being a perfect example with an increased grant award from £1000 to £4000 this year based on the impact these groups were clearly having on carers. PKAVS has benefitted from this funding because without it we couldn’t have increased the frequency of these social groups in the areas where they already existed and we couldn’t have opened these up in new areas. The reason for that is we wouldn’t have had the funding in place to be able to afford these developments. The creation and further development of these social groups in more localities throughout Perth & Kinross has helped raise awareness about PKAVS carers hub as an organisation which in turn should ensure more hidden carers are identified and offered support and more registered carers know who to contact if they are in need of any additional support.
Carers will have more opportunities to enjoy a life outside of their caring role.
The grant awarded allowed PKAVS to increase the numbers who could attend already established social therapy groups as well as increasing how often these were run each month. On top of that the grant awarded also meant we could deliver social therapy groups in new areas of Perth & Kinross. All told this meant more carers were able to attend and benefit from these social therapy groups. Feedback received from carers attending make mention of how nice it is to have something to look forward to and especially a treat such as a pampering session with one of the therapists. They mention it helps them re-energise and feel better able to cope with the challenges ahead in the next month until the next therapy session is available.
Mary is a carer who lives in a rural village in Perth & Kinross called Kinloch Rannoch. This village is some 51 miles and a 90 minute drive from Perth. Up until this grant award which has allowed us to develop and deliver social therapy groups in more rural locations Mary had travelled to Perth to attend these. The stress this caused, especially by being away from the cared for, almost made coming to the social therapy group a bit of a waste of time for Mary. Through this pot of funding we were able to offer social therapy sessions once a month in Pitlochry which in terms of distance and travel time is half what Mary faced by coming into Perth. This quote received from Mary on the feedback form that is completed by carers after every social therapy groups sums up the difference expanding the reach of these groups have made to her. ‘ Transport is a major difficulty for me getting into Perth. Now the therapies are moving around I have been able to experience a therapy and felt fabulous afterwards. It really made me feel not only valued as a carer but as a person. I lay on the sofa and switched off. It was an amazing feeling and I am so pleased this is something I can do again. And I look forward to it.’
Carers will feel better supported to sustain their caring role.
The social groups also provide access to additional support networks that can help a carer cope and sustain their caring role. Many friendships and peer support groups are formed through carers attending these social therapy groups. The added benefit of delivering these groups in more localities is there is a likelihood that friendships and peer support groups formed will be with people who live locally. This means that carers can still meet during the month as well as when the social groups are running. The additional support offered to help sustain the caring role whilst attending these groups is there will always be a member of PKAVS staff in attendance. This means they can engage with all the carers who come along to attend and update them on any new support services that they may be able to access. Likewise the carer can get a chance to talk about their caring role and the impact it is having on them. If the situation is deteriorating then we are well placed to try and put in place.
Liz and Marie have been attending the social therapy groups being delivered in Perth City for a number of months now. Both arrived early for a cup of tea and a chat as they had their complementary therapy at the same time. Often after their therapies they would stay for another cuppa and for a chat with the PKAVS support workers in attendance and with any other carers who may be there at that time. Liz and Marie tell us that they have now formed a friendship that means they keep in regular contact and often meet each other at various times during the month for a bit of a break and to catch up. This additional peer support has made a world of difference for them both as it gives someone to talk to during the month when the social groups aren’t running. On an evaluation form completed by Liz after attending a recent group she wrote ‘ I love my therapy and really look forward to them. It helps me relax and feel valued and gives me something to look forward to. I also enjoy the social aspect and the cup of tea and chat that are always available before and after the therapy. Through these I have met other carers who I keep in contact with during the month which makes me feel better supported.’
Carers and the people they care for will have improved wellbeing
Feedback from carers attending these social therapy groups tell us that they and their cared for benefit in a number of different ways. It gives them something to look forward to each month which is something just for them. Carers make mention of feeling re-energised after the pampering session and feel better able to cope with their caring responsibilities. The knock on effect for the cared for is obvious and also the cared for feedback that they are happy to know that their carer is being supported to get some respite from caring. The social element of these groups is every bit as important for improved wellbeing as the actual complementary therapy session. This social aspect allows peer support groups and other friendships to form which can be a great support even during those times when the group doesn’t meet. Feedback we have received is that carers often meet for a coffee and chat during the month between when the groups meet and keep in regular contact over the phone. The social
Julie is a working carer and works full time. We have always been mindful at PKAVS that many of the services we deliver are not always readily available for working carers as a lot of what is delivered happens during the working day. With the grant award made to PKAVS we were able to set up a social therapy group one evening a month which was specifically for working carers to access. The quote below was left by Julie after she had attended one of these working carer social complementary therapy groups. ‘It is a great opportunity to have social therapies and it certainly works with helping to alleviate stress and for carers to feel valued. Everything is set up for Monday to Friday during office hours and that excludes some carers that have other commitments during these times. This results in me not being able to attend. I have recently had a social therapy in the early evening and I really enjoyed it. It helped me relax and have some time to myself. Having a cuppa after was good as I found out a bit more about what other support is available.’