A story by networking key services
We provided a 3 day residential break in Argyll to improve the lives of carers and young carers, who are grass root level disadvantaged individuals, suffering with mental health issues and are in complete isolation. This break proved to play a vital role in reducing carers stress and anxiety.
What Creative Break did
Through staff consultations we identified service users that would benefit from the short break, particularly those individuals that are in desperate need of a respite break but don't get the opportunity. Regular staff meetings took place to organise and achieve the best possible outcome for the trip. Thirty individuals were divided into six cabins with dietary requirements taken into consideration.
Stress management but fun activities were decided on, by consulting with the carers/cared for, by holding focus groups. The chosen activates were yoga, Pilates, arts and crafts, painting, walking, Indian dhokla music, singing, dancing, crochet, cookery, baking and games. In order to make this a success we purchased all the relevant equipment for the above activities. Yoga mats, baking equipment, arts and crafts materials, games, Indian dhokla drum and hired a karaoke machine.
Our staff was also supported by trained Pilates tutors and yoga tutors who every morning did a wonderful job of giving an hour of therapy in the outdoors. The Principles of our short break project was addressed by the following : Leadership, Integrity, Decision making with careful planning,
Risk and control on site, staff effectiveness, Diversity, and Accountability if anything was to fail.
Networking Key Services successfully engaged with carers and the people they were caring for. This is evident through the positive feedback we received from users and in particular for the activities that the users benefited from. They really enjoyed the experience in a very beautiful, scenic and soothing location.
What networking key services has learned
Targeting families most in need of support, firstly, Networking Key Services enquired which carers were generally interested in using the short breaks services. With further investigations we were able to identify the carer's who would not use short break services at all. Then our team undertook outreach work to help us understand and develop information about the particular carers that were in desperate need of a short break.
We gave careful consideration to carers, individuals with long term illness that were cared for and that were on low incomes. We also evaluated the individuals that were in exceptional circumstances and suffered mental isolation/ depression due to the affects of covid 19 impact had on them they had lost loved ones due to that. Along with being full-time carers they were mentally drained.
This break also allowed women who had less opportunities to access short break due to cultural restrictions as they come from male dominated communities and due to the extreme role they have and of the caring responsibilities this isolates them from the outside world .
Reaching out to and engaging with new families, with the Success of this short break and reviews of our users of this project and through the success stories of Networking Key Services newsletter, many carers in need coming from the similar background have come forward and approached us to find out information if something similar to this break would be a possibility in the near future.
Looking at the scale of interest it would be a good idea to arrange a carers assessment plan. Through home visits and one to one, focus groups following the carers assessments Networking Key Services could come to an adequate decision.
Dealing with unexpected challenges or opportunities, our biggest challenge initially was how to engage with the carers for the idea of a residential break
Earlier in the year Networking Key Services got carers away for a day breaks this was the key to build their confidence up for a 3-day residential break . we were aware that this would be an uphill task to encourage and engage carers to participate in the residential break.
Overnight breaks are not a popular concept culturally with the South Asian women. Extended families don't agree with this idea as they believe that this a in a form of freedom for their women often the in-law's would have the problem. They would not want a break for the carer unless they all were inclusive in it. Where as support workers we are aware that this is not what the carer would want. Through empowering women and educating them and gaining their families trusts we were able to accomplish the first step by reassuring families that most of the carers would be able to bring along the cared person with them so there would be no burden on them to look after the person left behind.
This was also very reassuring for the carers that there cared ones would be with them and there would be no stress or worry to have left them behind and that this time away would only build their relationship stronger with the person they cared for .
How networking key services has benefitted from the funding
Strengthen organisation's reputation, this project has had a large impact on our reputation, Networking Key Services catered for the needs of South Asian women by exploring recovery pathways to improved overall wellbeing. Networking Key Services also meets the criteria for cultural and religious boundaries within South Asian women. This residential break then becomes less challenging and carers are able to relax. We were able to devise a programme within the boundaries of their culture and religion that is acceptable to their families. All of our staff are bilingual and well aware of the issues. This experience made them feel at home with us. Through word of mouth and our newsletter people are finding about the success we had with carers. We have had exceptional amount of new referrals' of carers which is great in exchange as we get the opportunity to help so many other individuals' that really need our help . Build our skills, knowledge and capacity, with continued research of how to make this residential a success, we liaised with carers throughout to understand each individual needs their as there surroundings and environments would change even for a short while it could them happy or unhappy, so the constant liaising through group work surveys' and one-to one we were able to build and create a plan that would benefit all carers . Also by learning about each carer and their lifestyle this information also helped us have an idea as how much help a certain carer would require as we had to remember for many of the carers attending this residential it was there very first time .
Carers will have more opportunities to enjoy a life outside of their caring role
Networking Key Services has devised a working model where they are encouraging women to take shorter day breaks in order to build their confidence to eventually go for a weekend away. Our carers are informed of the importance of a respite break and the positive impact it can have on their physical and mental health. Carers are constantly encouraged and educated to look after their own wellbeing without feeling guilty about it. We constantly reassure them that a respite break can give them a chance to focus on themselves and be able to do the things they enjoy doing. Success would be measured by recording and mentoring through one to one consultations and focus groups. Feedback will also be obtained from the programme by the participant's of the short break and will be asked to rate their experience and their confidence levels.
Carer A is a single mother and carer for her daughter. Her daughter suffers mental health issues and who in the past has attempted suicide. For this very reason Client A must supervise her daughter at all times. Last year A also suffered a hip operation and the recovery and healing process was very long. Both carer and cared for, suffered extreme isolation with no help or support other than NKS, who provided regular support at the time. It is no surprise that A began to suffer anxiety and severe depression. The three day residential break gave the carer and her daughter the rest and bonding experience that they greatly required. A is very satisfied and happy as she has made new friends and contacts. Prior to this break, A was living in isolation and very unhappy. This break provided her with much needed energy and a positive attitude to life. She has also stated that "she has never laughed so much" and "taken part in staying up for late nights with new friends, sharing their experiences with each other". Carer A feels that the break has changed her entire perception on life and her relationship with her daughter has also improved. She is now in regular contact with her new friends. A stated that before this break, she was "very near to having a mental breakdown and this respite break has saved her mental health". A's daughter is also very happy with the residential break. She has begun to believe in herself in a more positive manner. She spent the time to relax with her mum and visit many places e.g. rivers and forests. This break has given this young person the ability to believe in herself.
Additional project outcome
The South Asian female carers are feeling more empowered, sure and confident to participate in short breaks in the future. They understand this will help improve their overall well being and make them less isolated.
Carer B is a full time carer for her mum who suffers from severe arthritis and has poor mobility. Initially, they were concerned if the residential break would be equipped for her needs but were assured that the cabin they were staying at had wheelchair accessible as well as a beautiful scenic view. If the cared for person could not manage outdoors because of her condition at least she could enjoy the lovely view from indoors. The carers were very impressed on arrival at their cabins which included hot tubs. The carer and her mother had never used a hot tub before and so it was a first experience which they thoroughly enjoyed. The carer was very lonely as she had lost many friends due to giving her time and being dedicated in her care for her mum. This respite break with other carers re-connected her with people. She went for long walks, did painting, enjoyed baking with others sharing her cabin, and took the chance to do yoga. This experience has made her so positive about herself, she now feels so focused on her well being. Furthermore, she has reported a positive increase on her mental health since the respite break.
Additional project outcome
Carers will feel better supported to sustain their caring role. The participants of the programme feel relaxed and report improved well-being because of their participation in the programme and receiving one to one support from Networking Key Services staff and volunteers'.
The respite break allowed our staff to connect with carers on a one-to one basis, as each staff member was the group leader in each cabin. This gave the carers the opportunity to be supported and looked after at a closer distance. One of the carers suffered anxiety because she was not able to have her husband with her. He had stayed behind and was looked after by their son, but her being his main carer she was very worried about him. The cabin staff member helped her with Facetime on the iPad to stay in touch regularly and to assure her. The staff member came to know that the carer loved singing and dancing but never had the opportunity to do this, with her caring role. The Karaoke machine was organised where she performed her singing and dancing, which she greatly enjoyed and no doubt reducing her stress. This break has now enabled the carer to become more confident in herself and her decisions, to be able to spend some time apart from her husband, has enabled her to put her trust in others and to be able to share and talk about her fears.