Carers Short Breaks Project - Dumfries and Galloway
A story by Dumfries and Galloway Carers Centre
To provide grants for short breaks directly to carers who live in Dumfries and Galloway. Any Carer can apply to the fund and they do not need to be registered with the Carers Centre.
What Carers Short Breaks Project - Dumfries and Galloway did
In the last 12 months the local short breaks fund has been continued as a result of the ongoing grant from the Time to Live fund as well as local funds from both the NHS and Local Council. Through funding, a short breaks support worker is employed at the Carers Centre to enable the fund to be managed, administrated and evaluated. The fund has an application process and guidance that has previously been developed at the outset of the project. This was consulted on extensively across Carers organisation and Carers locally.
This year 11 short breaks panels have been held. Panels consist of a staff and board member from the Carers Centre, a local commissioning officer, a manager of the local Headway service and a Carer.
160 applications have been supported this year bringing the total to 386 since November 2011. 11 applications were not supported this year due to them not meeting the criteria set. Many of these were directed elsewhere for support.
The fund is promoted locally through the work of the Carers Centre and support workers encourage and support Carers to apply. The fund is also 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. Articles are also sent out in newsletters to try and encourage awareness of the project.
As a result of the original application to the Time to Live fund in 2011 the Local Council and NHS provided additional funding to extend the money available to Carers for short breaks. This has been continued this year. This has meant that a total of £51,220 has been allocated through the Dumfries and Galloway Carers Short Breaks Fund this year.
2 other Carers have come back for a second application to the fund this year for activity based short breaks. One for a golfing membership and one for a football season ticket - both male Carers used respite to access these activities and it meant that their respite time was being put towards meaningful time out on a regular basis. This in turn impacted on their health and wellbeing.
"The residential creative writing course met my expectations far beyond my dreams. I was very apprehensive of my abilities and of socialising again. I came away feeling valued, respected and equal to everyone." - the impact of a one off writing course on the social skills of one of the Carers applying to the fund.
"It made me realise life is worth living and you have to make the most of your life and what you enjoy"
The local Short Breaks Fund has supported 2 group applications this year through the additional money given to the project from the Local Council and NHS. The first application supported a group of Young Adult Carers to attend a weekend residential following on from a 5 day course relating to Realizing Your Potential and Developing Self Confidence. This evaluated extremely positively and the Carers Centre went on to apply for further funding for a second 5 day course and residential through the Carers Trust.
The second group application contributed towards 8 Carers attending a night away at Stobo Castle. All Carers were identified as most in need of a break through the Carers Support Staff at the Centre and then funds were raised via a variety of sources. The group benefited immensely from the time away, meeting and socialising with others in a similar situation, access to support staff and the importance of their own health and well being being promoted. This all contributed to assisting them to sustain their caring role on return. "It's given me the strength to carry on in my role as a Carer and knowing I can do it"
"It has made a difference because it has shown us the importance of making time to oneself, not to feel guilty and that the person we care for likes us to have fun"
A second family was awarded funding for train tickets to London to enable them to stay with family members. They were then all able to see their daughter, who they care for, take part in a drama production on a London stage. The long term impacts of both these experiences can only be imagined.
She continued to fund her membership when the first year came to an end. Sadly this year Mrs X's husband died. Some time later Mrs X was invited to go on holiday to Florida with friends. This was somewhere where she had holidayed with her husband when he had been well and her husband had swam with dolphins.
Mrs X had always felt this is something she missed out on as she was unable to swim at the time. On her return to Florida earlier this year she was able to swim with dolphins and remember the times she had with her husband. As she said "This is something that I have been able to tick off my bucket list!"
What Dumfries and Galloway Carers Centre has learnedThere has been a great deal of learning locally about how to manage a fund and about how a short break can be of benefit to Carers and their families. The organisation has learnt a great deal about what Carers expect from a short break, how they benefit and how a short break can be used in a creative manner to achieve the best outcomes.
The fund has been used to demonstrate innovative ways to provide a short break to Carers but the importance of the traditional short break has also been emphasized through the number of requests and feedback generated.
The fund has enabled new Carers to be identified through other organisations / agencies assisting Carers to apply who may not have been in touch with the Carers Centre or other third sector Carers organisations.
The fund has generated at a local level have enabled the fund to be extended to Young Carers and Young Adult Carers as well as providing additional funds to Adult Carers.
There has been learning through the generation of the application process and there has been amendments made to this and the criteria in the last year following consultation. The process has highlighted that many Carers require support and encouragement to identify and book their short break despite submitting an application. This is indicative of how the self confidence of many Carers can be adversely affected by their role.
The funded role of the Short Breaks worker has been imperative to the implementation of the project, without which the project could not have been administered. A flexible application process is also useful to keep in mind. The local fund has monthly panel meetings at which decisions are made re awards. However if an urgent application requiring priority comes in outwith the panel deadlines, panel members have agreed to read over applications via email and come to a 'virtual decision'. A decision had to be made when it became apparent that some Carers were maybe relying on an application to the fund over several years. It was decided that 2 applications can be received from any one Carer but any more than this will not be considered. It was also decided that in the event of a second application a contribution would be more likely to me made towards the amount requested.
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 has 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.