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 the Local Council. A Short Breaks Support Worker is employed at the Carers Centre (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.
This year, 11 Short Breaks Panels have been held where the decisions around the applications are made. Panels consist of a Staff and Board Member from the Carers Centre, a local Commissioning Officer, a representative from the local Headway Service and a Carer. We have also invited another member from the local Third Sector Organisation who is the Social Work representative there. This has added to the diversity of the Panel.
143 applications have been supported this year bringing the total to 529 since November 2011. 7 applications were not supported this year due to the criteria of the fund not being met.
The fund is being 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 Support 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.
Through the Short Breaks Support Worker this year the Centre has been able to develop the project to offer a Respitality Scheme working with the national 74 Co-ordinator from Shared Care Scotland. Breaks have now been offered through this scheme and work is planned to extend it further in the next 12 months.
As part of this an application was submitted to the Short Breaks Fund for equipment and clothing that would enable her to show the horses and feel comfortable in this role. The grant was successful and the Young Adult Carer went on to show the horses at several shows across the region. This supported her to have time out from her caring role, promoted the importance of a life outside of caring and showed a development in confidence from the previous year.
Another Carer has used a grant to access Bowen Treatments for lower back pain. She enjoyed the relaxation side of this treatment which gave her time out from her caring role but also the treatments have reduced the pain she experiences when lifting and handling her husband which she reports as making it easier for her to cope and reduces her stress levels.
This meant that the impact of the break was much more positive than if the caring had needed to be taken on by someone not as familiar. The mum and daughter reported back as getting time together as a luxury and recharged their batteries to enable them to cope with the ongoing caring role.
2 Carers have used grants to access golf memberships this year which has enabled them to have a regular break from their caring role and therefore more able to cope. They have also reported that the memberships have enabled them to sustain or develop friendships reducing social isolation.
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 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.
We have been able to further develop the membership of the Panel with the addition of the Third Sector Representative who has had her knowledge of the fund and of the issues Carers face developed through her experience. This learning can then be shared through her networks.
The process has continued to highlight that many Carers require support and encouragement to identify and book their short breaks despite submitting an application. This is a reflection of how the self-confidence and self-esteem of Carers can be affected by their experiences. The funded Short Breaks Worker continues to be key to the project and more so now with the development of Respitality locally.
A good example of this has been where a Carer and her daughter had booked a bus trip and cruise but were both unwell at the time they were due to travel. The Captain of the cruise ship wouldn't allow them to travel and the break had been paid for. When the Carer contacted the travel company the insurance claim was refused as the medical report was dated after the cruise had travelled. The Carer was so upset that she had not only missed the opportunity for the break but also that the funding had been received from a charity and she felt it had been wasted.
The Short Breaks Support Worker was able to explore this further and by liaising over an extended period of time with the holiday and insurance companies, was able to achieve a positive result. Through explaining the importance of the break and where the funds had been received from the Manager of the holiday company supported the Carer to book another break with them that has now been taken. The Carer admitted that she would not have had the strength, time or energy to purse this in the way that the Short Breaks Support Worker did.
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.