Caring Connections: Haven @ Home
A story by The Haven
We improved the mental health and wellbeing of dementia carers and their loved ones by delivering regular, planned respite breaks at home.
The project developed a successful pilot to increase capacity in the community to support dementia carers through support and information to sustain their caring relationships at home
What Caring Connections: Haven @ Home did
The project employed a team of a nurses and 10 complementary therapists drawn from an existing pool of experienced staff and sessional therapists. Sessional therapists received Dementia massage training. A significant investment in time had established referral pathways with Health professionals and stakeholder organisations for example, Alzheimers Scotland and local dementia cafes to identify those clients who would benefit from the project. This was supported by an outreach programme and leaflets which helped to raise awareness of the service and referral process for carers and those affected by dementia.
The Haven @ Home team worked together to provide integrated emotional support while building trusting therapeutic relationships to address changing emotional and psychosocial needs. The project had 3 strands of support delivered in the comfort of the carers own home which was tailored and flexible to meet their individual support needs, these were
Nurse: 66 dementia carers and their loved ones received 196 1:1 x 1 hour visits to assess emotional health, develop and implement Care Plan, anticipatory information about dementia and caring; communicate complex information, emotional support during transitions e.g pre bereavement loss of long term relationship
Therapist: 66 dementia carers and their loved ones received 1030 hours regular respite breaks at home via 2 hour x weekly sessions of complementary therapies to reduce stress, teach techniques to cope with anxiety, planned breaks in caring routine, deep relaxation sessions to soothe carer during times of crises, ease tensions, calm emotions to restore equilibrium and sustain caring relationships
Haven @ Home volunteers: we trialed a new role for volunteer befrienders and recruited 3 with 1 successfully matched to a family. During the project we developed close relationships with several organisations offering volunteer befriending services which we were then able to signpost to our carers eg LEAP, Alzheimer Scotland. As a result we were able to focus on the area which we could make the greatest impact with nurse and therapist support
Haven @ Home improved her awareness of dementia and increased social interaction through regular support visits from nurse and therapist at home. As a result of the nurse visits she was supported to contact Alzheimer’s Scotland and had a referral made to Social Work Department for assessment of carers needs. Diane received a course of complementary therapies to help her deal with stress and provide respite breaks in caring.
As a result of Haven @ Home she has increased social interaction, has more understanding and ability to cope with her husbands condition and now has carer support in the form of personal care for husband. "Haven @ Home is a brilliant service" Diane
Alice was able to recognise when she needed to ask for help and received complementary therapies sessions at home to provide regular respite breaks in caring to reduce stress. As a result of Haven @ Home she had a greater understanding of dementia and the confidence to cope with her caring role. She improved her overall mental health and wellbeing which has sustained her ability to cope with caring for her mum at home.
Alice was also encouraged to contact other organisation such as Alzheimer’s Scotland and the Social Work Department to have a carer assessment. Alice is now able to understand when she is becoming stressed and fatigued and knows how to deal with it. She is now feeling well enough supported to consider signing up for a diploma course in complementary therapies
Georgie has now learned relaxation and coping techniques and understands it is okay to ask for help. She has been signposted to other carer support organisations such as the LEAP project. ‘After a long time of finding out things for myself, it was great to come across The Haven, who come to me and provide support in my own home, I do not have to think about logistics about getting to something’
The Haven @ Home DVD was subsequently launched at a workshop presentation delivered on the topic of Haven @ Home at the Shared Care Conference in Stirling to a wide range of stakeholders. The workshop illustrated the benefits of this innovative service delivering short respite breaks at home The DVD has been a useful resource to promote the service to both health professionals and carers in the community as part of the outreach programme at The Haven to promote services.
What The Haven has learnedDelivering planned Complementary Therapy sessions to dementia carers and those cared for at home is extremely successful in providing personalised support and has dual benefits to carers e.g regular short respite breaks in their caring routines reduce stress and time for carers to plan ahead and switch off when their loved one receives a therapy.
Initial feedback from Dementia carers confirms the difficulties of traditional “one size fits all” approaches to respite for this client group out with the family home, as it often disrupts routines and can be exacerbated by being in unfamiliar surroundings. The service is delivered at home and is therefore able to support those carers who are less likely to ask for support and isolated due to fraility, transport issues or complex caring roles
Additional benefits for carers who are less isolated at home due to increased social interaction with nurse and therapist visits and improved communication with the person cared for, due to the additional dementia training that therapists have received to engage with people with dementia. This is helping to sustain long term caring relationships. "As well as looking forward to the therapies, I also valued the friendship developed with the therapist as you need somebody you can speak to about all the build-up of anxieties in the domestic situation” dementia carer
Anecdotal evidence from dementia carers has shown that there are often longer term benefits to the cared for person and the carer when they receive a visit from the therapist to deliver a therapy session. The impact of the session, of relaxation and enhanced wellbeing, can last longer than the 2 hours of planned respite break
“my wife was less agitated following the therapy and this lasted to the next day” dementia carer
Some carers were able to plan ahead and create a short respite break for themselves by timing therapy visits while their loved ones are taken to a local dementia day care centre, giving them time to receive the maximum benefits of therapist visit and complementary therapy
The Haven has used the initial results and learning from The Haven @ Home dementia short breaks project to successfully secure 5 year Life Changes Trust funding in November 2015. This will enable us to sustain the project beyond the lifetime of the current Shared Care Scotland grant for dementia carers. It will also let us trial the value of using volunteer therapists in service delivery, potentially further enhancing sustainability of the short break service for the longer term. This is an exciting early additional impact of Shared Care Scotland funding.