Carers Social Complementary Therapies
A story by PKAVS carers hub
This funding was used to develop our social complementary therapy groups so the locations they were delivered in and the number of groups delivered increased. The groups give carers a chance to meet other carers and PKAVS support staff but most importantly it lets them enjoy a complementary therapy.
What Carers Social Complementary Therapies did
Initially we planned to create a timetable of complementary therapy groups across Perth & Kinross that carers could access for some peer or professional support and also to enjoy a 45 minute complementary therapy session. However for obvious reasons this wasn't possible during the bulk of the lifetime of this grant award due to ongoing restrictions and very limited access to buildings needed to deliver these.
We then approached Shared Care Scotland with a Plan B which was to offer carers access to 12 complementary therapy vouchers. Carers would then also receive an Approved Providers List of therapists when they received their vouchers who they could then contact to make an appointment for a complementary therapy session of their choice. Once the session was over the carer would then hand the therapists one of their vouchers and the therapists would then invoice us at month end for payment.
The reason we thought this would be a good Plan B was because we knew therapists had been allowed to re-open and so many on the Approved Provider List were taking appointments again and also because the outcome was the same as Plan A which was for carers to benefit from some complementary therapy sessions. The only downside was the carer contact and a chance to catch up with PKAVS support staff was not available.
Initially we sent out the offer to carers who we knew had accessed these social groups in the past and the take up rate has been very high with a number of carers using all 12 of their vouchers in a relatively short timeframe. We have since also offered these same vouchers to other carers registered with us and again the take up was very positive. The feedback we have had from those who attended these groups previously was they enjoyed the therapy session but missed the contact with other carers and PKAVS staff. Carers new to this offer just fed back what a treat having this 45 minute pamper session was and how much they appreciated it.
We received a similar award from the Short Breaks Fund in 2021 and so have now started to re-establish face to face groups again although at the time of writing we may have to postpone those again because of this new Omicron variant.
What PKAVS carers hub has learned
The first thing we have learned is how important the social aspect of these complementary therapy groups are. Carers report back that they enjoy the 45 minute pampering session but for them the chance to meet other carers in their area and develop peer support groups beyond the therapy sessions has been much missed.
The second thing we have learned is similar to above but relates to the importance of having professional staff in attendance at these groups. Carers fed back that just having a member of the PKAVS staff there for example as a sounding board or for our staff to let carers know of anything new that had come into place in terms of support was really useful. It also allowed relationships to grow between carers and our staff which meant that carers felt more able to reach out to someone they knew if the caring situation was deteriorating.
We probably already knew this but these sessions are only 45 minutes long with some time added for a tea/coffee and a chat before or afterwards. That's not a lot but in terms of supporting carers own wellbeing it seems to work. Carers fed back that knowing someone was thinking of them and what they were going through plus having something something to look forward to each month was a big plus for them.
How PKAVS carers hub has benefitted from the funding
We have benefitted because circumstances dictated that we couldn't deliver what we had originally applied for funding for and we appreciated the opportunity to come up with a Plan B that you were willing to sign off. I think this Plan B showed carers that we were thinking out of the box in terms of trying to find ways to offer them some short breaks despite the many challenges we faced. I know from the feedback received that carers have been very appreciative of that. The use of these vouchers also helped evidence the demand that these complementary therapy sessions have and the positive impact to seem to have on carers wellbeing. With this in mind we have started to talk to our HSCP about an increased amount for therapy vouchers next year. Hopefully we wont use the Short Breaks Fund for vouchers during this grant term but it was obvious that the funding we used from the Short Breaks Fund helped meet the demand for these sessions with carers. Based on this we have asked our HSCP to look to increase the award we receive to administer this voucher scheme on their behalf from the current amount of £33k to nearer £50k as that is an amount needed to meet the demand we've seen over the past 2 or 3 years.
210 carers throughout Perth & Kinross will be able to access regular complementary therapies through their attendance at the social groups PKAVS delivers. The feedback we receive from carers is these social groups help them relax, share concerns, develop new friendships and gives them something to
Due to the changes in how we delivered complementary therapies during the lifetime of this grant award it did mean fewer carers than predicted above benefitted from these sessions. In total 153 packs of vouchers were sent out to carers with 67 using anywhere between 1-12 vouchers. So in terms of carer receiving a much needed 'pampering session' we still delivered that to a degree albeit differently from what we had planned. Unfortunately circumstances dictated that the social element of these groups couldn't happen and feedback is that this was missed by carers. Similarly we weren't able to have PKAVS support workers in place at these social groups as they weren't being delivered. The feedback received is carers missed this chance to have a chat about their caring role and to hear about any new or existing support that may be available for them to access. Carers who have used the vouchers have been very appreciative that we found new and innovative ways to still offer some support.
Although the complementary social groups had stopped the feedback we received from unpaid carer Mrs Begg was still positive. Mrs Begg has a full time caring role for her husband who was a worsening dementia diagnosis. Mrs Begg enjoyed coming to the social groups as she says they gave her something to look forward to and a chance to have a life out with caring even if only for a couple of hours a month. She said she enjoyed the social aspect including the tea or coffee and a chat with other carers and/or professionals in attendance. She said because the group was delivered locally it meant she could attend as she could get someone to look after her husband for those couple of hours. Mrs Begg missed the social aspects of the groups but was very appreciative that we hadn't just closed these down without trying to think of an alternative offer. She still enjoys the time away for the 45 minute pamper session once a month and thankfully there are therapists who live close by to her who she can visit. Some other therapists offered home visits if this meant Mrs Begg so still can a therapy at least once a month.
Carers will continue to report that access these social sessions improves their own mental health and wellbeing thus making them feel better able to continue in their caring role.
The feedback we have received is that although the carers have enjoyed and appreciated the vouchers that have allowed them to access complementary therapies individually they have missed the social aspect of the groups. Many carers enjoyed some time away to have a cup of tea and a chat with other carers either before or after their therapy session and this has been missed. Similarly the chance to talk to any professionals in attendance has also been missed. However the feedback was that the individual sessions at the therapists premises were still helpful towards helping with their own health and wellbeing. We have since started to re-establish our social therapy groups through more funding from Shared Care Scotland and these have been well-attended to date. However at the time of completing this report the Omicron variant is rife across Scotland so we don't know how long these social groups will be safe to continue to deliver.
It is difficult to give a specific case study for this outcome as it relates to the benefits of the social aspect of these complementary therapy groups that unfortunately didn't happen and we moved on to Plan B. I think the positive we can take from the feedback we have received is how many carers mentioned how much they missed the social aspect of these groups which gives us reassurance for the future that re-starting these will be beneficial for carers. Feedback we have had states that the social aspect was every bit as important as the therapy itself as meeting other carers in the same position as they found themselves in was almost reassuring to the carer that they weren't alone. Carers also fed back about creating friendships through accessing these groups that they found supportive even when the groups weren't being delivered.
Carers will continue to say their attendance at these complementary social sessions has helped improve their own self-confidence and their ability to continue to cope with the challenges they face and that they feel better supported to do so.
A very similar response to the 2 previous outcomes I'm afraid. The feedback we have had was the voucher scheme was appreciated and carers were grateful that we didn't just stop delivering complementary therapies altogether and we came up with a new way of offering these. The sessions that were delivered have given carers 'something to look forward to', 'a chance to recharge the batteries' and have left them 'feeling better supported to continue in their caring role'. However there is no doubt the social aspect of the groups - the chance to meet other carers in their own area and so start to build peer support networks even when the therapies aren't running has been missed.
Although the social aspect of the groups haven't been run during the lifetime of this grant award the access to complementary therapies albeit using the voucher scheme has still had a positive impact on carers from the feedback received. A number of carers have fed back when asked about the vouchers that they enjoyed having these to use and that this 45 minute pamper session gave them something to look forward to. The carers on the whole understood why we couldn't deliver the social groups but said that they were still grateful that something lese similar could be provided.