Compassion 4 Carers
A story by ia2ps increased access 2 psychological support
We provided Compassion for Carers a Mindful/Compassion Based Retreat based in Thornhill, Dumfries & Galloway. It was made up of two Retreats (6 Carers in each group) delivered over 2 Weekends (Friday to Sunday).
What Compassion 4 Carers did
Over the 2 weekends course participants were introduced to a range of mindfulness/compassion based capacity building activities. These activities took place in Thornhill, Dumfries & Galloway. Working in conjunction with Third Sector Organisations, NHS and D&G Council, the main referring Organisations being Support in Mind and The Carers Centre. Over the 2 Carers Breaks/Retreats 13 carers attended and benefited.
One of the key areas we attribute the success of the project to is the support and partnership working we received from a range of local Third Sector Organisations and The Hotel where the retreats were delivered.
The Creative Breaks priorities we focused on and believe the project was successful in were Carers will be able to cope better with the demands made on them in their caring role and Carers will feel better supported to sustain their caring role and Carers and the people they care for will have improved well-being
The key areas of success that carers achieved over the retreat weekends included the following new skills: Mindfulness Based Sitting Meditations, Mindfulness Based Walking Meditation, Mindfulness Based Body Scan Meditations, Mindfulness Based Drawing Meditations, Mindfulness Based Movement Meditations, Mindfulness Based Eating Meditations, Mindfulness Based Sound Meditations, Compassion Based Sitting Meditations. Compassion Based Walking Meditations, Compassion Based Body Scan Meditations, Compassion Based Movement Meditations, Compassion Based Eating Meditations and Compassion Based Sound Meditations.
We believe these activities allowed carers to try a range of mindfulness & compassion based activities and develop the ones that suited their needs. Although the project was a success it did not go completely to plan because we had funding for 12 participants and 13 attended. The 13th participant was funded partly from ia2ps and partly by the carer himself.
What ia2ps increased access 2 psychological support has learned
The first thing we learned from delivering this project was that demand from carers and caring organisations exceeded the service that we could supply. Therefore, any future applications to Creative Breaks would involve us applying for funding for 3 groups of carers, to take on the Carers Retreats.
We have increasingly become aware of the importance of working closely with our Third Sector Caring Partners in addition to The Council and NHS. These Organisations know the type of service we deliver and have helped to signpost to us individual carers who we can best help, support and develop. An unexpected opportunity that has arisen as a result of Carers attending retreat weekends with ia2ps is that they are now aware of monthly mindfulness/compassion support groups that ia2ps offer across the Region.
How ia2ps increased access 2 psychological support has benefitted from the funding
One of the key areas that ia2ps has benefited from Creative Breaks funding is our increasing contact with the Carers Centre Dumfries and Galloway. In addition to now providing one day Mindful Self Compassion workshops for carers (funded by the carers centre), we are also developing and about to deliver a mindfulness based staff development program called 'Finding Peace in a Frantic World' to their staff. This in turn has increased direct work that ia2ps engage with for Carers and Staff and has helped us to gain a much more detailed knowledge of the needs and demands that carers and people working with carers face.
12 carers feeling less anxious/depressed and being able to cope with the challenges they face. 12 cared for people being less affected by negative thoughts and behaviours carers might have or exhibit.
All 12 carers stated that they felt less anxious as a result of attending the retreat on their feedback sheets. All carers were interviewed during the weekend on a 1:1 basis and stated that they were feeling better able to cope with the challenges they were facing as a result of the work we were doing over the retreat weekend. On completion of the weekend all carers stated that they were beginning to have a more positive view of themselves.
" This weekend was not only welcome respite from my caring responsibilities, it has prepared me to become more mindful in my life. It has enabled me to become someone who is fully aware (awake) and in the present moment. Nourishing my mind and body will now become a central practice in my life." "This short course was an education on mindful self compassion and has raised my awareness on so many levels and put me in touch with my internal world." "It has given me the tools that I require to move forward positively in to the future. This course will also be of benefit to this who I care for as I become a more relaxed (in control) person. "
12 carers having a more mindful and compassion focused approach to their individual life situations where they are not just defined as a carer.
All 12 carers stated that they were beginning to understand what it meant to be "more compassionate" and not just view themselves as a carer as a result of attending the retreat on their feedback sheets. All carers were interviewed during the weekend on a 1:1 basis and stated that although they initially had felt some concern about being away from the person they cared for they began to realise that they also needed space to look after themselves that in turn would allow them to look after their cared for person, better. On completion of the weekend all carers stated that they were beginning to have a more positive view of themselves and the they too mattered.
"The retreat weekend was a very special time for me. It gave me back some time and space for me. It was good to talk to others and share experiences in a SAFE place." "It was really good to get away and have some time and space in such a relaxing place. I think I felt safe and cared for. The hotel and hotel staff played apart in this but the group and our leaders made it happen." "Having a shared experience and a safe space to relax and be heard was very important." "The mindfulness practice throughout the weekend was very well spaced and the me of Friday evening arrival and the me of the Sunday lunch leaving felt very different. I was encouraged to show myself compassion as a carer and to continue practice at home." "I also made a dear friend at the weekend and at home the practice in many forms has been important to me and also encouraged my husband in early/ mid stage dementia to practice too." "I have had a long term diagnosis of depression and anxiety. Which also has an impact on my family. The practice has helped me to help them by allowing me to have longer stable times. In a way I can self medicate with mindfulness. I feel very encouraged by this." "My son is bipolar and is an alcoholic. I feel my practice has helped me to help him too." "At the time I went on the course I was afraid that my diagnosis of my illness, would be what would cause my family problems in the future." "However mindfulness has allowed me to find a space for myself which in turn has given my family space to be themselves and I try to take time for myself. I try to give myself space. I can now allow others in the family to be and not sort." "I continue to practice and kick start myself with other courses because it makes a difference. Because of my husbands diagnosis my life has changed in many ways." "I have had to do things that are socially and organisationally difficult for me. Also I have had to deal with the psychological impact of this diagnosis on the immediate family." "My mindfulness practice has been very important. I can look at things, compartmentalise , allow myself time to digest and hopefully respond to situations rather than react. I can give myself time within all this. "
12 carers reporting a positive change in these areas supported by qualitative interviews
Carers on the retreat and this is reflected in their comments in the case studies below. In addition to the carers comments we believe that for a short period we helped the carers focus on their own needs rather than the person they cared for. This in turn will allow them to be more resilient both for themselves and for the challenges of their caring role.
"The retreat has given me time to myself and treat myself as a person rather than a carer this has made a big difference. I would never have made the time for myself otherwise and I believe this course has given me a much needed boost." "The retreat has enabled me to take away a range of resources to improve my/out mindset at home to deal with the challenges we face." "This weekend for me has been a great opportunity to focus on myself and realise how grateful I am for everything and everyone I have in my life. Being kind to myself is something that hasn't been present in my life, I haven't made myself a priority but now I know how important it to to step out of my caring role sometimes and allow myself time to care for myself both physically and mentally." "The retreat really helped me to relax and get myself in to a better place to deal with the challenges I face. I wish I could come again."