A story by Cosgrove Care
Cosgrove’s Cos-Go! Provided regular weekend activity short breaks which focused on wellbeing, building skills and sustaining families. Cos-Go! delivered 6x 2 night breaks for carers most in need.
We also delivered 2 activity days and 6 family forums, giving carers an opportunity to connect.
What Cosgrove's Cos-Go! did
We delivered 4 weekend activity sessions every week for 30 weeks and 6 x 2 night short breaks. The short breaks took place in November 2022, March, June, August and October 2023. They took place at The Knowe, Portpatrick and Rabbie Burns Lodge at Balbeg Ayr, as well as Barrland Court, Giffnock. 180 people with learning disabilities, autism and additional needs and 207 carers participated.
Referrals were from a range of sources, we prioritised families in need of a break from their caring role and who were under the most stress. We also delivered 6 Family forums directly with families and two activity days where we brought people together to share, learn and connect. Families were grateful for advice and support and felt that regular short breaks sustained them in their caring role whilst improving skills and independence of supported people.
One of the positives of the project was our ability to bring Ukrainian Refugees in as volunteers, many of whom were very skilled and who were able to gain skills and confidence in language whilst supporting the short breaks. The training of volunteers was broader than usual to ensure this worked well.
We addressed the following Creative Breaks Priorities: mutual benefit- both carers and cared for people benefitted- cared for people by meeting others, trying new activities and learning new skills, carers through having a regular break to relax. Personalisation- all short breaks focused on the particular needs of families to ensure they were personalised and person-led.
This helped meet family aspirations. The support was targeted at those families most in need of support to sustain them- those with cared for people with more complex needs and who are struggling as a result of the cost of living crisis too. Providing transport and support was key. All the short breaks provided was designed to compliment formal supports and to help carers develop skills, knowledge and resilience.
We achieved this through family forums, activity days. Securing Ukrainian Volunteers was a real success. The short break holidays proved to be highly positive for supported people as well as carers- many of who took a break themselves.
What Cosgrove Care has learned
Project Planning and Budgeting: we continue to learn from Project Planning and the impact of external factors such as the financial crisis on carers, adjusting the offer to maximise participation and finding person-led solutions. There are often unseen barriers to exclusion such as transport, equipment, access.
Developing new short breaks activities- we delivered a themed short breaks holiday which worked really well for supported people and their families, continuing to evolve, try new places and different models of support is key to our approach.
Dealing with unexpected challenges and opportunities- reaching out to the Ukrainian community was positive, giving us a wealth of experienced volunteers helping cared for people learn about other cultures and connecting refugee families in need too.
How Cosgrove Care has benefitted from the funding
Cosgrove has benefitted from the funding by improving our reporting and evidence based skills, helping us connect with carers to ensure we get the offer right and respond to what carers need and want. We have also built an evidence base which has allowed us to secure funding to develop more work around wellbeing which is positive for cared for people and their families. We continue to learn from delivering Creative Breaks funded projects, especially around mutual benefit and personalisation and how we best achieve this.
Carers who we support through our 6 short breaks will have experienced a positive break from their caring role, safe in the knowledge that their family member has had a person-centred tailored break too. Carers will have more opportunities to enjoy life out with their caring role including a break.
This was fully achieved and carers benefitted from time away from their cared for adult and told us the variety of things they did with this time. Carers noted that the benefits of their cared for adult having the right support from a trusted provider was key to being able to take time away to relax and recharge their batteries. Carers noted that the fact that cared for people were having fun, trying new activities and meeting others made a significant difference. In relation to the weekly activity sessions, small regular periods of support gave carers time to spend with other family members and noted that this time was an anchor in the week for them. Consistency was noted as being a positive.
Mrs P is mum to D and is a single parent. D is a 36 years old male with down's syndrome and mental health challenges. D's mental health has deteriorated in the past two years whilst the formal support that the family receive has also reduced, placing this single mum under pressure. Mrs P has health issues and is finding caring for her son increasingly difficult. Attending Cos-GO! weekly has improved D's wellbeing and built confidence in his mum. She has used the time to meet her friend and connect. She has noted a difference in D's behaviour and improvements in her own health as a result of regular time for herself. She believes that Cos-go has been very positive for them a a family, allowing them both the space and time to sustain them and improve their wellbeing.
Carers will have participated in 4 Family Forums and two Activity Days and will have had opportunities to connect with other families, the wider network of support available to them and have had a say in shaping the activities and supports that are delivered and that they will need into the future.
Throughout the year, we had several opportunities to connect with carers: through the family forums, activity days and through 1:1 consultations to understand if the project has made a difference to them, how and if this potentially will sustain them into the future. Carers told us of the value of meeting other carers, of being able to build confidence and trust and how important this is and of the benefits of short, regular breaks to help them feel better supported and sustain them in their caring role. Trust has been a word that has come up frequently with carers in terms of better support and sustaining them. So too has the importance of sharing what works with others and learning from other carers. We have been able to engage with carers through a range of forums, have learned the importance of doing this properly and in a personalised way.
R is a 34 years old lady with learning disabilities, autism and physical care needs. She lives with her mum and dad who provide 24 hour care and who have limited support to help them in their caring responsibilities. R attended 10 weeks of sessions and 2 x 2 day short breaks. This short break gave her mum and dad a well earned break from their caring responsibilities and helped to sustain them. R made new friends and her wellbeing improved, reducing the caring burden on her mum and dad. Her parents are now looking at the future and what would help them sustain their caring responsibilities having built confidence in letting their daughter take part in regular support sessions. They spoke with other families about the future and have gained confidence in the future and how support could be shared.
80 cared for people will have had the opportunity to participate in weekly wellbeing sessions covering emotional and physical wellbeing, relaxation and healthy living and we will use baseline assessment with families to determine changes to behaviour, skills development, and relationships.
We learned just how important wellbeing is for cared for people and their carers. It is clear that the ongoing challenges experienced by families, compounded by reduced services, financial worries and fundamentally changed behaviour as a result of COVID forms the main pillar of concern and reduced wellbeing for all. We used baseline assessment to help us determine where we needed to focus support for families and worked intensively on wellbeing specific activities. Families told us that they believed that wellbeing was improved and that they noted positive changes in behaviour of cared for people and in carers own wellbeing as a result of regular short breaks and wellbeing specific activities. 80 people took part in the wellbeing activities and we noted a positive impact on skills, confidence and connections with cared for people, reflected back to us via families.
M is a 25 years old lady with complex needs. She has a hearing impairment and is non verbal. She lives with her parents and sister in Glasgow. M's wellbeing and mental health was significantly impacted during lockdown and her family noted her loss in skills, reduction in active participation in day to day activities and low mood. The family noted that this change was having an impact on all family members with many activities previously undertaken now not possible. Mum was at breaking point. M attended 2x 10 week sessions of wellbeing activities where she took part in yoga, sensory activities and art therapy. The family noted a significant change in M's behaviour and improved wellbeing across all family members.