A story by Getting Better Together LTD
We held weekly groups in evenings where we provided time for working carers to participate in short break group activities. Held weekly we provide carer support groups to allow carers to come together to share experiences, information and generally support each other. Supporting former carers to become ambassador
What Caring Matters did
53 short breaks were offered to carers (and the cared for person) during this reporting period and were accessed by 37 carers and 10 cared for people. The short breaks consisted of 46 daily groups, 48 evening groups and 9 carers receiving one to one support outwith. Transport was offered and accepted by all taking part.
The daily groups have been particularly successful as carers have said they now feel better informed, reduced isolation, able to share experiences and enjoying hearing from other relevant organisations by the way of further support on their doorstep. 3 volunteers were recruited and appropriately trained during this reporting period.
The short breaks offered in the evening included: Crystal therapy, reflexology, reiki, indian head massage, massage and meditation enabling carers to work on the cared for at home. The activities were delivered in the Shotts Healthy living Centre and Mornay Way Sheltered Housing complex main hall. Right in the centre of the community.
What Getting Better Together LTD has learned
This project highlighted the needs for carers support in this rural Community along with a need to provide supports networks which can be accessed in the evening.
More carers are expected and encouraged to go out to work on top of their caring role to make ends meet. This means there is a gap in services support -all too often resources are only available during normal working hours.
Once we had the ' support network ' formula right, attracting the more hard to reach/ hidden carers became ' simpler' as we were providing a service which they particularly needed and were able to access. We ensured all barriers to accessing support were removed as far as possible.
We provided door to door transport to venues, activities which are asked for by carers, safe space to ' talk' and support to access additional services such as Lanarkshire Carers, Advocacy, social work etc. Our carers became more self reliant and supported one another, creating a social network amongst themselves , providing peer to peer advice and support.
Whilst carer resilience is a wonderful outcome it is apparent that there is still a need to provide a network ' lead' who can keep Carers abreast of any developments and support opportunities. The network lead is also able to respond to help prevent a concern becoming a crisis.
How Getting Better Together LTD has benefitted from the funding
MacMillan coffee morning! - In partnership with Mornay Way Sheltered housing complex, the local coop, staff members and the general community helped to make this day very successful. The manager at Mornay way invited her residents to come together with the carers in the community. They shared experiences and information whilst enjoying the home made cakes (by the carers) and all the other goodies provided by the local coop. This inclusive day made the participants feel welcomed by their peers and each other. The local press attended and we got centre spread in the Wishaw press highlighting the work that GBT do in the community and further afield. This is now going to be a regular event hosted by GBT. £110.00 was raised on the day which made all the participants feel important and collectively proud. Having the team there also helped the day to run smoothly. The funding also strengthened our focus on carers needs living within a rural setting. From the evidence gathered we are able to advise NL wide carer support bodies the need for a more cohesive approach to supporting rural carers and encouraging 'hidden' within our communities to access services. Carers using our services are promoting the service by word of mouth.
Through the provision of 'no barriers' peer short break group being delivered and supported outwith normal working hours carers who can't normally access services due to work and other family commitments accessed peer support and relaxation therapies enabling support in the community.
We used the Star Outcome approach and the distance travelled measurement tool. Started at the beginning of project again the the middle then the end. The project targeted adult carers over the age of 21 living in the Greater Shotts area of North Lanarkshire. One of the outcomes included: carers were able to make new friends and access new opportunities since being involved in the groups. Learning about alternative and complimentary therapies together they were able to practice on each other to continue to do this at home. 28 carers learned new meditation and relaxation technique skills as well as 9 cared for people. All were informed on other local support agencies and appropriate group activities to further enhance their health and well being. The carers were able to access peer support and a range of relaxation therapies which gives them more opportunities to relax, learn and meet other carers living in their communities. The groups are keen to meet when the project ends .
D is a carer looking after her frail husband and said, "To know I am not the only one going through this is a relief and boost to my self esteem. Not only has it reduced how isolated I felt I have made new friends and learned to to keep my self more relaxed and how to manage my stress better resulting in enhancement of my own health and well being as well as my husband's. I now understand it is okay to have feelings of anger and resentment without judgement is a blessing. I am feeling like a wife again not JUST a carer. The worker has helped me put my feelings into perspective. I didn't particularly want to join a group but I came along to learn relaxation techniques on the suggestion of my GP. I explained this to the worker and was assured it was okay to come along and leave after the training but guess what! I am still attending not being a person for 'Group things' I am now a fully committed groupie! Everyone was so welcoming. I am enjoying getting out and about in my own community".
Carers will feel better supported to sustain their caring role.
We used the Star outcome approach and the distance travelled measurement tool. Started at the beginning of project again the the middle then the end Carers reported that: They have experienced an increase in their health and well-being resulting from attending the groups and learning how to reduce stress levels and enhance relaxation skills. They have developed skills to better cope with the caring role with more confidence. They have reported it has given them more confidence to continue and sustain the caring role. They have better access to information and current legislation that might affect them, eg, income maximisation and social prescribing. All carers who accessed this project are now registered with their local Carers Centre and can now access training, funding towards further breaks, listening ear and much more.
A is a carer who looks after his granddaughter who has Autism and has suffered a stroke (age 17) He says, "I feel so much better since attending the groups as I am able to meet other carers, share experiences and learn from each other. I didn't know how to access any other service before or even how to ask for help! Since attending the group I have become more confident when dealing with Social Work and Education. For example, I had a serious problem with education regarding my granddaughters personal care at school. I didn't know where to turn or how to cope. I mentioned it at the group and, there and then, the worker emailed my local councillor listing my grievances. It did take some time but low and behold all my grievances were addressed before my granddaughter returned to school at the beginning of this term. I am now also able to use my new learning techniques to help both of us. Thank you GBT!"
Provision of an evening carer support group Carers accessing short breaks away from the caring role Improvement of carers and cared for health and well being Better developed skills to continue to cope with the caring role Access to mediation and relaxation technique therapies
Through the provision of the evening short break,and the morning support group, the carers who accessed this have experienced improvement of their health and well being as well as the people they care for and have reported this through our monitoring and measuring tools. Carers have now developed their own skills to cope better with the caring role through learning and practising meditation and relaxation therapies by participating in the group. 28 carers and 9 cared for have accessed short breaks through this reporting period. A range of speakers have attended the groups including the topics: Self Directed support, Carers Rights, Local services helping local people, Lanarkshire carers centre, Advocacy, Health centre services for carers and planning for the future. The Getting Better Together Project and 'Caring Matters' have good working relationships with all third sector organisations and statutory agencies across the authority. All staff and volunteers are fully trained.
B is a 70 year old carer who looks after his wife with severe Dementia. They live alone and he is her main carer. She has additional support from community organisations helping her with some personal care but the main carer looks after everything else. He attends the weekly support group with her every Monday morning where he shares how his week has been. He brings her with him which is one of the only places they can go together these days. She is non verbal and in a wheel chair. They have breakfast with us then he goes to the shops for bits and pieces and a newspaper. The other carers in the group sit with his wife and make sure she is looked after and comfortable until he returns one hour later. He says, "I love my monday mornings having breakfast with my wife and the other carers. It makes us feel part of the community and a couple once more. I feel great being able to leave her for one hour knowing she is in safe hands. I really look forward to it as sometimes the weekends can be the hardest times. I feel the better from this short break away from the caring role and am able to face the week with more confidence. I also know that they are only a phone call away if I need anything or just feel like a chat. Thank you GBT"
Additional project outcome
Circle of friends
When the group started, as expected it was quite small, but steadily grew as time went on. This was due to the project worker having positive partnership workings with other relevant organisations to help identify hidden carers in the Greater Shotts area. However, unexpectedly, the carers themselves started to spread the word within the community and the outcome was amazing. Not only did they encourage other carers to attend - they became friends. The shared each others phone numbers, Facebook accounts and Twitter feeds. They contact each other outwith the group for added support and relief of isolation. they can talk in the night when most support organisations are closed. They also meet outwith the group setting and have started to attend other activities in the community. For example: art classes, walking groups, tea dances and the men's shed. To compliment this extracurricular activity the worker has made herself available in the evening and weekends for one to one telephone support. We never thought it would have been so successful and the carers have received it greatly. Stating, "I can't believe I can pick up the phone anytime and get the information I need or simply just have a chat when I think it is all getting too much. The worker reminds me that's it's all ok." Not only are they showing peer support they have become friends.
Additional project outcome
A has been a volunteer for several organisations in Lanarkshire since she retired 15 years ago. Working as an OT in the community she realised the need for support for people who live in isolation and approached 'Caring Matters' to offer her time. She was disclosure checked and given the relevant training before she started to accompany the worker to the groups. Her main tasks include: welcoming everyone and managing the attendance sheets; organising and distributing light refreshments to all; general admin and filling when required. What happened next we is heart warming. A the volunteer happened to live across the road from W the carer. W the carers suffers from acute anxiety and depression and had not been able to leave her house on her own for 4 years. She depended on her family to go shopping with her, attended hospital and GP appointment, dentist etc - basically everything! As the time went on A & W became quite close - as you might expect with a neighbour. However it went deeper than that. W stated firstly by giving A a lift to the group. Then one day they stopped and had a coffee together. It escalated so quickly they are now supporting each other. A is 75 years old and has found a new friend in W. They attend all the community events together now allowing their families to get a break away from the caring role. A states, "I have found a new friend and quite often have coffee in each others houses as well as attending community events together that I didn't' even know were there." W states, "I have definitely found a new friend. Not only that I am able to leave the house without a family member, giving me a new lease of life. I feel more confident, less isolated and happy for the first time in a long time. My anxiety levels are greatly reduced as has my medication for depression!"