Carers Short Breaks Project
A story by Dumfries & Galloway Carers Centre
We provided grants directly to carers who live in Dumfries & Galloway.
What Carers Short Breaks Project did
In the last 12 months the local Short Breaks Fund has been continued as a result of the ongoing funding from the Time to Live Fund as well as local funds from both the NHS and Local Council. A Short Breaks Worker has continued to be employed at the Carers Centre for 8 hours per week to enable the fund to be managed, administrated and evaluated.
The fund continues to use the applications process and guidance that was previously developed and consulted on extensively. There have been 12 panels this year consisting of a Staff and Board Member from the Carer’s Centre, a local Commissioning Officer, a Carer and a representative from the Third Sector. 109 applications have been supported this year bringing the total to 646 since November 2011. 8 applications were not supported this year due to the criteria of the fund not being met.
The fund is promoted locally through the work of the Carers Centre and Support Workers encourage and support Carers to apply. The fund is advertised widely through the local Carers Interest Network which is a forum of local organisations that support Carers in some way. Local Social Workers and NHS professionals are encouraged to support Carers to submit applications and articles are also sent out in newsletters and posted on the Centre’s Facebook page to encourage awareness of the project.
The Short Breaks Support Worker has continued to offer Respitality and continues to work with the National Co-ordinator from Shared Care Scotland. It is planned to continue working on this scheme. Our Short Breaks Support Worker attended the International Short Breaks Conference in September and is now working with Commissioners to look at local strategic development.
The Young Adult Carer who applied for the BMX bike had to take on the majority of the caring role for his brother when his mum also became ill. This added pressure left him exhausted and drained. He had always enjoyed going to the skatepark to watch his friends on their bikes but the grant allowed him to go and join in. This has increased his opportunities to widen his social circle, improve his confidence and get a break from caring. It has also improved his fitness which in turn relieves his stress making him better able to cope with his brother.
One of our Young Carers applied for funding to join yoga classes. Due to her caring role and living in a rural area she felt very isolated and didn’t leave the house very often to get time out from her caring role. She had tried yoga with her mum and really felt the benefit of it. She has a knee injury so other forms of exercise are difficult. She lives in a very noisy house and finds this stressful. Yoga gives her the peace that she needs. We were also able to fund a bus pass which meant that she could travel to and from the classes herself without relying on her dad for a lift. This has increased her independence and confidence.
Local Short Breaks funding has enabled us to take 11 Carers away on a residential break for 2 nights/3 days in the peaceful Perthshire countryside. They weren’t allowed to lift a finger. A chef was brought in the first night to cook a lovely meal for them and they were taken out for a meal on the second night. A bus driver was at their beck and call to take them on a shopping trip on the middle day and a trip to Ikea on the way home. All said it was lovely to have everything done for them for a change. New friendships were developed with the swapping of phone numbers at the end of the 3 days. Feedback showed a drop in stress levels, time to rest and an increase in laughter!
A local hotel who had donated a break to Respitality last year contacted us to offer 2 more breaks of dinner, bed and breakfast, one before Christmas and one after. A Carer and her husband were delighted to take one of the breaks which they used to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary. This opportunity gave them the chance to enjoy improved quality time together by celebrating a special occasion, which in turn made them feel more like a couple rather than Carers.
What Dumfries & Galloway Carers Centre has learnedAgain the extension of the project has resulted in ongoing learning about the benefits that Carers experience as a result of having access to the Short Breaks Fund. The fund has enabled a break to be interpreted in various ways to best meet the needs of the Carers and their families. New and innovative ways of spending grants have been seen as well as the importance of being able to apply for the more traditional short break. The funding from Shared Care Scotland has again enabled funding to be awarded to the project from local sources. Both the NHS and Council are secure in awarding funds to the project knowing that a robust, supportive application process is established which can benefit Carers in the region.
The funded Short Breaks Worker continues to be key to the project and more so now with the development of Respitality locally. The Short Breaks Worker was able to attend the International Short Breaks Conference which has enhanced learning and inspired new ideas and enthusiasm which will assist in the development of the project locally but also will enable these ideas to be part of the work being done at a strategic level in Dumfries & Galloway as Commissioning prioritise looking at how short breaks are provided in the region.
The benefits to the Carers have been in some ways immeasurable and long lasting and the words used in feedback and evaluation forms continue to surprise. There have been some challenges to panel members when considering what constitutes a short break and the more innovative, creative applications have proved for some interesting discussion and debate.